If performing in a play about the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi wasn’t enough to turn the cast of “Lombardi” into Packers fans, then the Packers’ surprising march to the Super Bowl sure did the trick.
“Lombardi,” which opened at Circle in the Square Theatre in October, played to 76.9 percent capacity during the week of January 24-30 — or, as NFL fans know it this year, the Super Bowl bye week. That was an increase of 12.6 percent over the previous week, the second-biggest improvement among the 19 shows tracked by The Broadway League behind only “The Lion King.”
The Packers earned a berth in Super Bowl XLV, which will be played this Sunday, February 6, by beating the Chicago Bears 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, January 23. The Packers will be seeking their fourth Super Bowl crown — and the Vince Lombardi Trophy that comes with it — when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the cast and crew of “Lombardi” performed a matinee during the NFC Championship Game. Their show ended at halftime, at which point the cast and crew raced to a nearby bar to watch the rest of the game with the football fans in the audience in tow.
“As we bowed we yelled out to the audience ‘The Packers are winning 14-0 at halftime,'” Dan Lauria, who portrays Lombardi, told the Journal-Sentinel. “People bought a lot of tickets for Christmas presents and they didn’t realize it would be during the middle of game time. A lot of Packer fans there just couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.”
The Packers’ playoff run was good for “Lombardi” business even before they reached the Super Bowl. The play was performed to 78.4 percent of capacity during the week of January 10-16, which was the week following the Packers’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC wild card game. That was an increase of 2.1 percent and made “Lombardi” one of only three plays that week to experience an improvement at the box office.
The surprising success of the Packers — which had to win their last two regular season games just to earn the final spot in the NFC playoffs and then had to win three games on the road to become the first sixth seed to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl — has lent a serendipitous air to “Lombardi,” which is the first Broadway play ever endorsed by a major professional sports league.
The play, which takes place during a week in the 1965 season, has earned plenty of positive press, not only for its accurate portrayal of the driven Lombardi but also for tapping into an unusual audience. Over the last two weeks, the New York Post has run a series titled “Lombardi’s Playbook” in which Lauria, as Lombardi, examines the Packers and the Super Bowl matchup.
“What I like to call this is divine choreography,” Judith Light, who portrays Marie Lombardi, told The Tampa Tribune. “Can you imagine anything better than having this be the year that they’re going to the Super Bowl? It’s kind of magical. We all think it’s pretty well-designed.”