Original Broadway windowcard
|Written by||Eric Simonson|
|Place premiered||Circle in the Square Theatre, New York City|
The play follows Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 season, as he attempts to lead his team to the championship. A "Look Magazine" reporter, Michael McCormick, wants to "find out what makes Lombardi win". However, players on the team refuse to be interviewed, wary of giving up information. He goes instead to Lombardi's wife, Marie, for answers. Meanwhile, in a flashback, Lombardi frets over his lack of promotion and contemplates quitting football. His wife reveals that the family had an emotional move to Green Bay, Wisconsin when Lombardi joined the Packers.
Lombardi ends up yelling at Michael in front of the team, prompting both to storm off. Dave Robinson, a player from the Packers, comforts Michael at a local bar, sharing stories about his initial impressions of the coach, the "honor of being barked at" by Lombardi, and the equality established on the team. After more positive insight from Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, Michael decides to attend the next game. As he narrates what happened at the game, the Packers win.
After he writes his news story, Michael reveals to Lombardi that he is quitting "Look Magazine" to form his own publishing company. Lombardi congratulates him on his move to independence and celebrates the win with Michael and Marie. Michael realizes that Lombardi is "the most imperfect, perfect man" he ever met.
Original Broadway cast
- Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi
- Judith Light as Marie Lombardi
- Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick
- Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung
- Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson
- Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor
History and background
Simonson created an earlier version of the play entitled Lombardi: The Only Thing, which was produced in 2007 by the Madison Repertory Theatre at the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The play then had a successful run at the Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee in 2008.
Great Barrington (2010)
The production had a pre-Broadway tryout at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, playing from July 22 to July 28, 2010. The production featured Dan Lauria and Judith Light as Vince and Marie Lombardi, respectively.
Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010, after previews beginning on September 23. The creative team includes direction by Thomas Kail, sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, and lighting by Howell Binkley. This production is being produced by Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser. Lombardi closed on May 22, 2011, after 30 previews and 244 performances.
Due to the Packers winning the 2011 Super Bowl, the show's producers were "hoping for a halo effect at the box office." Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times: "The Packers’ victory on Sunday lent “Lombardi” plenty of visibility before and after the Fox broadcast of the game. One of the network commentators, Howie Long, who has seen “Lombardi,” talked up the play before kickoff and during the postgame show he said, 'I think ‘Lombardi’ the play just got an extension on Broadway.' " Healy also wrote that the show had not recouped its $3 million investment, and while producer Tony Ponturo said that the show was scheduled to run until June 19, 2011, it ended its run early. Producers would not comment on whether or not the play had earned back its production budget.
The original Broadway cast included Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi, Judith Light as Marie Lombardi, Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick, Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson, and Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor. Light was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Lombardi.
The regional premiere of Lombardi began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The production starred Lee E. Ernst as Vince Lombardi and ran from October 11, 2011 to November 13, 2011. Simonson said in a statement, "I grew up in Wisconsin, so [Lombardi] was always a part of the ether. When I started doing a play on him, it was not just to recount a famous man's life story, it was really to find out and unearth the reasons why this man was famous. He's a fully dimensional man, a complicated man, more complex than people realize."
Fish Creek (2012)
"Lombardi" continues its professional run in Wisconsin at Peninsula Players Theatre in Fish Creek (Door County) Sept. 5, 2012, to Oct. 14, 2012. Fish Creek, Wisconsin, is 70 miles north of Green Bay.
The show received mixed reviews from New York critics, garnering a "B+" rating on StageGrade. Charles Isherwood said the show "seems to depend heavily on a playbook that emphasizes the importance of team effort. In examining the life of the title character . . . this workmanlike drama often keeps him offstage for long stretches, almost relegating Lombardi to a supporting role in his own story."
Most critics were in consensus that Lauria's performance was the highlight of the show. Variety's Marilyn Stasio emphazised that "[Lauria] brings that endearing quality to his scrappy portrait of Lombardi . . . Working off his own bulldog physique and gap-toothed grin, Lauria achieves an eerie physical resemblance to Lombardi, who used his whole body to speak his mind." However, The New Yorker added that "Lauria would do well to tone down the yelling."
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- Bernardo, Mary Rose (2010). "Gridiron Gang: The team behind Lombardi". Playbill (Broward Center for the Performing Arts).
- Jones, Kenneth."Lombardi Will Have a Wisconsin Homecoming, Making Regional Premiere at Milwaukee Rep" playbill.com, May 17, 2011
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- "Lombardi, IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information". The Broadway League. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. "Heights Director Kail to Direct Football-Themed Lombardi at Broadway's Circle in the Square" playbill.com, April 14, 2010
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- "Tony Award nominees, 2010–11". 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-05-03.
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- Hague, Jim. "'Lombardi' on Broadway is a smash hit". "Tasty Tidbits". The Union City Reporter; October 24, 2010; Pages 12 & 13
- Stasio, Marilyn (2010-10-21). "Lombardi Review". Variety. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- Goings On About Town: Lombardi. The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-12-07