Windy City

Previewed 9 July 1982, Opened 20 July 1982, Closed 26 February 1983 at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London.

The new Dick Vosburgh and Tony Macaulay stage musical Windy City in London starring Dennis Waterman and Anton Rodgers

Adapted from the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur play The Front Page with book and lyrics by Dick Vosburgh and music by Tony Macaulay.

The cast features Dennis Waterman as 'Hildy Johnson' and Anton Rodgers as 'Walter Burns' along with Amanda Redman as 'Esther Stone', Robert Longden as 'Earl Williams', Diane Langton as 'Mollie Malloy' and Victor Spinetti as 'Bensinger'. Directed by Peter Wood with designs by Carl Toms.

"The name of Dick Vosburgh was some guarantee that Hecht and MacArthur's masterpiece would be treated with respect, but the success of his collaboration with Tony Macaulay still takes your breath away. In the first place - unlike so many adaptations - it supplies sound justification for turning the piece into a musical. The Front Page consists of a newspaper drama with super-imposed melodramatic plot, and it teems with character and incident; much of it simultaneous. There is every pretext for a musician to step in and confer music's particular gift to the theatre — the power to establish one pattern inside which several things are happening at the same time... Mr Voshurgh's lyrics are all devised to enlarge and advance the action. The surprise is that they are not funnier, and that there are no couplets you feel like quoting. Peter Wood's production takes full advantage of resources seldom seen nowadays on the commercial stage. He brings on a quintet of Uncle Sam dancers for the upcoming election, and a fantastic street mob for the task of shifting the rolltop desk concealing the escaped killer. The stage buzzes with one-line midgets, grease balls, and fixers carrying bootleg whisky in double-bass cases. He also has a superb casting, both in the central duel of Hildy and Walter (Dennis Waterman and Anton Rodgers), and in the main support parts each of whom is given his own chance to raise the roof." The Times

"The Front Page, the 1928 stage hit, has became a classic of its kind, the definitive piece about journalism... So why on earth put a perfectly good play to music? Why not, I say, after seeing Windy City. Composer Tony Macaulay and writer Dick Vosburgh have done the impossible and turned a great story into a great musical. Vosburgh's script is as taut and telling as a Daily Express headline and it is laced with the kind of writing which twists an editor's mouth into a satisfied smile and puts a grin on the face of the reader... The casting of Windy City proves an inspiration. Dennis Waterman as the hero Hildy Johnson of 'Herald Examiner' brings star-quality to the role without turning it into a vehicle for himself... Amanda Redman is a revelation. She has a strong, firm voice which lacks the tinny tone of the musical comedy soubrette. And she acts as beautifully as she looks. Macaulay and Vosburgh have got themselves a scoop. Hold The Front Page, make way for Windy City." The Daily Express

"Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's The Front Page is a classic: a satirical farce about power, corruption and newspaper-life as religion that puts more of America onto the stage than any play of the Twenties. But although in Windy City it has been turned into a thoroughly skilful and professional musical by Dick Vosburgh and Tony Macaulay I can't help feeling it needs music like the Sahara needs sand... But the problem is that the giddy momentum of farce doesn't cry out for music. Thus when Walter and Hildy have the fugitive Earl sewn up in a roll-top desk, their prime urge is to get the scoop before the rest of the hacks return. But when they take time out to sing a pleasing little ditty, I Can Just Imagine It, the high-pressure panic of the original goes out of the window. Indeed too many of the songs are amiable decoration that impede rather than further the action... But although the music doesn't (as in all great shows) supply a dimension missing in the story, I must admit the whole thing is mounted with considerable verve... Some of the performances also hit just the right scale. Even if Dennis Waterman's Hildy is rather dour, Anton Rodgers is superb as Walter Burns: he's Attila the Hun in a striped suit roughly seizing Salvation Army girls by the lapels, sourly barking into his phone and bringing onto the stage a great charge of diabolic energy. ... Everyone works with a will and at times the show takes off. But, although it is no disgrace, it leaves one key question unanswered: how can any musical improve on a classic source?" The Guardian

Windy City in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 9 July 1982, opened on 20 July 1982 and closed on 26 February 1983