When audiences see the play "His Girl Friday" at the Majestic Theatre it may seem different compared to the 1940 movie starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.
This is because director Sarah Sullivan wrote her own adaptation of the classic film, adding more characters. She also gave backstories to some characters who were extras with little screen time in the original film.
"The running story is there is more than one His Girl Friday in this show," Sullivan said. "It's women moving against the grain of what was expected of them at the time. Some of the guys are even His Girl Fridays. They're unexpected characters in a lot of ways, which is kind of fun."
The comedy opens Friday night at the Majestic Theatre.
Sullivan's adaptation also includes cameos made by a few famous celebrities, though she didn't want to divulge who they will be.
"His Girl Friday" is set in New York City in 1938. Hildy Johnson, a star reporter, played by Amber Flamand, returns to The Morning Post newspaper offices having been away for several months. She comes back to tell her editor and ex-husband, Walter Burns, played by John Carone, that she is quitting.
Not only that, Johnson has met a straight-laced insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin (Brian J. Schneider), whom she plans to marry, so she can settle down as a homemaker.
Burns doesn't want to lose Johnson as his top reporter or wife.
"He isn't the romantic flowers and chocolates sort," Carone said. "He's more into tricking people, and going into grand schemes to figure out a way back into Hildy's heart."
His plan is to tempt her with one last big story.
Earl Williams (Andy Hahn), an office worker, was wrongfully convicted of murdering a police officer. He claims it was an accident, but is due to be hanged the next day. The corrupt mayor (Michael Wren) and Sheriff Hartwell (Rus Roberts) aren't willing to give him a fair shake.
Burns tries to get Johnson to feel so bad for Williams that she will agree to write the story. He hopes it will pull her back into the newspaper game, Sullivan said.
Johnson ends up taking the story, provided Burns buys a costly life insurance policy from Baldwin.
"When she comes back, she realizes how much she loves the tension, the stress, the pressure and the game, really," Flamand said. "That's really what makes her happy."
Johnson is joined in the press room by fellow reporters from five other newspapers trying to get the scoop on the Williams case. They are Endicott, played by Rory McDaniel, McCue (Robert Best), Bensinger (Levi Finley), Murphy (Samuel Wenger) and Sanders (Pat Leathrum).
The film mostly focused on three main characters: Hildy Johnson, Walter Burns and Bruce Baldwin. Sullivan's play has 48 cast members, with a mix of theater veterans and first-time actors portraying new characters.
The director was amazed by the community members who came out for auditions.
"I wrote in several other characters after we cast the show, because I wanted these personalities in the show. They have so much spirit and life," Sullivan said.
New characters include an entourage of Morning Post staff, a trio of three little girls named the Twicketts, and the rascals and newsies, who pick pockets and sell newspapers.
Sullivan, who has been a fan of the movie since the fifth grade, said she would watch it and wonder how the extra characters felt about Johnson and all that's happening in the story.
"I feel like there's so much more to this show than one 'His Girl Friday," she said. "This influenced so many other women in their relationship with Hildy."
The chance to perform in an adaptation also excited the actors.
"Shakespeare is OK and all of that, but being a part of a brand new show that's never been done before is pretty fun," Carone said.
Flamand said, "I love that she wanted to get more in depth with some of the other characters that you may have just seen in the beginning passing through the newsroom."
Newcomer Levi Finley said name recognition may help the play with audience members.
"I think some people will love it, because they know the movie and the fast, witty humor," Finley said.
Carone said audiences should appreciate the production's blend of comedy and drama.
"They will enjoy the wittiness behind the lines and also the seriousness of the tale, and how both intertwine without causing it to collapse into a dour drama or pie-throwing farce," he said.