IN THIS SUNDAY’S NEW YORK TIMES
Performances Begin Next Week
LOMBARDI brings the audience into the life and times of legendary Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, one of America’s most inspirational and mercurial personalities. Directed by Tony Award nominee Thomas Kail, LOMBARDI is written by Academy Award-winning playwright Eric Simonson and based on the best-selling biography When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, by Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss. Preview performances begin Thursday, September 23 ahead of a Thursday, October 21 Opening at the Circle in the Square.
Starring Dan Lauria and Judith Light as Vince and Marie Lombardi, the cast also features Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick, Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson and Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor. Joining producers Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser as special producing partner is the National Football League, marking the organization’s first foray on Broadway.
The production will be featured in the New York Times’ Arts & Leisure section on Sunday, September 19, 2010.
The New York Times
September 19, 2010
THREE women, all widows of men who worked with the exalted Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, recently heard a familiar phrase barked their way.
“What the hell is going on out there?” said Dan Lauria, who plays the lead in “Lombardi,” a drama opening at the Circle in the Square Theater on Oct. 21, as he strode into the tasteful common room at a retirement residence nearby.
“And where’s Marie?” Mr. Lauria added, shouting the name of Lombardi’s wife.
The women measured the stocky, amiable actor best known for playing the crusty father on “The Wonder Years” against their memories of Lombardi. Mr. Lauria is taller and, at 63, six years older than Lombardi was at his death. He has a gap between his front teeth that he told them he would widen (and will, with nail polish) to copy Lombardi’s.
Gazing up at him, Ruth Canadeo, white-haired and diminutive, said: “I love your voice. You’re just perfect.”
He might need to be. Plays about sports, especially those about real figures, are not abundant and rarely make it to Broadway. “Lombardi” has the benefit of a campaign by the National Football League to reach its fan base and sponsors. Still, the biggest burden rests on Mr. Lauria to personify the title character, a leader deified for bringing five championships, including the first two Super Bowls, to the smallest city represented in the N.F.L.
“If we screw up,” said Mr. Lauria, “I know a bolt of lightning will come down and kick us. He’s saying, ‘Don’t let up.’ I can hear him.”
Mr. Lauria was here in June with the playwright, Eric Simonson, as well as the show’s producers and director, to explain Lombardi onstage to Packers fans and to absorb Lombardi lore. They tossed footballs at Lambeau Field, watched a team practice with the current Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy, and visited the modest ranch house that the Lombardis sold in 1969.
Katie Gehring, its owner since, described how she was restoring the basement to make it look as it did when the Lombardis hosted post-game parties there. As Mr. Lauria left the house, her son Andy handed him the knob from a kitchen cabinet.
“Here, take this,” he said. “Vince Lombardi touched it.”
Tickets can be purchased online at www.telecharge.com, by phone at 212-239-6200, or in person at the Box Office (50th Street, West of Broadway).
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