On Sept. 20, Kirmser and Ponturo, who also brought Lombardi to Broadway, announced the creative team of the six-actor Broadway-bound play about the rivalry and friendship between Hall of Fame basketball players Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. No theatre, dates or casting were mentioned.
Playwright Simonson is an Oscar winner and Tony nominee. In 1993, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his direction of The Song of Jacob Zulu.
Magic/Bird chronicles "the intertwined life stories of two of the most influential figures in sports and pop culture of the past 25 years."
The creative team is David Korins (set), Howell Binkley (lighting), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Nevin Steinberg (sound) and Wendell K. Harrington (projections), "who will weave historic NBA film footage throughout the play."
The play will be produced in association with the National Basketball Association, marking the organization's first relationship with Broadway. Johnson and Bird are involved in the creative process of this original play, which is not based on source material. Here's the producers bill Magic/Bird: "At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports history, two of the greatest basketball players of all-time battled for three championships, bragging rights, and the future of their sport in the 1980s. Johnson and Bird electrified the nation on the court, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into one of the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports."
The play, with a six character cast, will premiere at a Broadway theatre TBA in spring 2012. Kail directed Lombardi, about football coach Vince Lombardi, in-the-round at Circle in the Square Theatre in the 2010-11 season. He was nominated for a 2008 Tony Award for his direction of the musical In the Heights. For Lincoln Center Theater, he also directed Off-Broadway's Broke-ology and When I Come to Die.
This is the second original project undertaken by producers Ponturo and Kirmser. They said in production notes that they "share a common vision of bringing new, original plays and musicals to a wide, diverse audience of theatergoers, initially combining the drama of sports and entertainment through Kirmser/Ponturo Group."
Lombardi and Magic/Bird "are the first two products of that vision."
In an earlier statement, Larry Bird said, "I am fortunate to be working with great professionals such as Fran, Tony and Eric. I am looking forward to working with them to create a story for the Broadway stage about such an exciting and important time in my life."
Johnson added, "I have great love and respect for Larry Bird, and am elated that our personal and professional relationship will now be exposed to an even larger audience through this dramatic production. Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo have a proven record not just of creating a successful production, but in making sure the story depicted is historically correct and impactful to a wide audience, and I am looking forward to assisting and supporting this effort in any way possible."