Forty years after his death, a new biographical drama about the life of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi is drawing a mix of theatre- and sports-types alike to the Great White Way. Directed by Thomas Kail and penned by Eric Simonson, “Lombardi” opened October 21 at Circle in the Square Theatre in New York, NY.
Dan Lauria stars as Vince Lombardi opposite the award-winning Judith Light, who plays his wife Marie. The play focuses on Lomardi’s struggles with the team, his wife, and a Look magazine reporter (Michael McCormick, played by Keith Nobbs) who is living with the coach and his wife for a week in 1965. The script is based on the biography “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi.”
In addition to Lauria, Light and Nobbs, the cast also includes three actors who represent the Packers. Bill Dawes plays Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley is Dave Robinson, and Chris Sullivan appears as Jim Taylor.
The 788-seat Circle in the Square Theatre hosted four weeks of previews beginning September 23 with an average capacity of 74 percent. Regular ticket prices are set at $115, and premium seats are priced at $200. Gross ticket sales were $170,255 for the week ending October17, and total $699,817 overall so far, according to numbers from the Broadway League.
Matinees are offered on Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. Evening performances are staged Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. The limited engagement production runs through February 20, 2011.
The National Football League has an above-the-title credit on the play, which it helped produce and market. But according to a Wall Street Journal interview with Simonson, he didn’t write a play about football — he wrote a play about a guy trying to be perfect and wasn’t able to achieve it.
“Lombardi” has received attention in the media for its potential to attract a wide demographic to Broadway, including one that is increasingly sought after by Main Stem productions: men. According to the Broadway League, women comprise two-thirds of the Broadway audience and make most ticket-purchasing decisions.
The Circle in the Square Theatre is located at 1633 Broadway, at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue. The play runs 90 minutes, without intermission. Scheduling and ticketing details are available on the production’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “Lombardi”
|Variety||Marilyn Stasio||“Light is an absolute treasure as the hard-drinking, straight-talking Marie…”|
|New York Times||Charles Isherwood||“Mr. Lauria…supplies jolts of energy when he can… What no actor could provide is the compelling emotional or psychological substance that’s absent from the writing.”|
|USA Today||Elysa Gardner||“Lombardi liked to say that while perfection isn’t attainable, in chasing it we can catch excellence. ‘Lombardi’ may aspire to and achieve something less, but there are worse ways to spend 95 minutes.”|
|Hollywood Reporter||Frank Scheck||“The often-awkward in-the-round space at Circle in the Square is uncommonly well-used, with projections overhead and on the stage providing ample visuals necessary to sate video-saturated NFL fans.”|
|TheaterMania||David Finkle||“[Lauria] imbues the character with such love that his bursts of fierce anger are somehow magnetically charismatic.”|
|Wall Street Journal||Terry Teachout||“Mr. Simonson has given us an extremely well-crafted piece of intelligent middlebrow theater, a regular-guy equivalent of ‘Frost/Nixon.'”|