Coaching Legend Lives Anew in Lombardi World Premiere in WI

News   Coaching Legend Lives Anew in Lombardi World Premiere in WI
Eric Simonson's Lombardi/The Only Thing, a play commissioned by Madison Repertory Theatre and developed during the company's fourth annual Madison New Play Festival, premieres Nov. 9-Dec. 2 in Wisconsin.

Madison Repertory Theatre artistic director Richard Corley stages the play in The Playhouse at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. Jeff Still plays legendary Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi.

"I'm so thrilled to bring this project to our stage," stated Corley. "When I arrived in Madison five years ago, I looked for stories that would have special meaning to Wisconsin audiences. After reading 'When Pride Still Mattered,' David Maraniss' brilliant book about the great Packers' coach, I knew I had found a subject that would make an outstanding theatrical experience. 'When Pride Still Mattered' was a depiction of every aspect of the coach's life: his influences, his relationship to his family, his role in the rise of modern sports, his religion, and the close and complex dealings he had with his players."

Corley commissioned playwright Eric Simonson to write a play inspired by the book. Simonson, a Wisconsin native and an ensemble member of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, is a playwright, director and filmmaker who received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject for his film "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin." His plays include Bang the Drum Slowly and Carter's Way, which will be produced later this season at Steppenwolf. Simonson's directing work includes The Song of Jacob Zulu, which received six Tony nominations including Best Director.

David Maraniss, the author of "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi," is an associate editor at The Washington Post, and the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. His critically acclaimed and best-selling books also include "First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton" and "They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace/Vietnam and America/October 1967."

Jeff Still's credits include You Can't Take it With You, A Clockwork Orange, Wolf Lullaby, Mother Courage, The Dresser, Sonia Flew and Orson's Shadow at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (also Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre), as well as various Chicago credits including Victor in The Price, the Cabbie in Hellcab and Queeg in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. Other Lombardi cast members include Ben Werling as Bud Lea/Inigo Lopez, Will Zahrn as Phil Bengtson/Colonel Red Blaik, John Taylor Phillips as Jim Taylor/Harry Lombardi, Michael Huftile as Paul Hornung/John F. Kennedy and Sara Phillips as Eva.

According to Madison Rep, the play is set on a snowy night, when "Vince Lombardi must face some hard truths about himself with the help of a team the likes of which he's never encountered. Lombardi/The Only Thing is a surprising take on a larger-than-life American icon."

Designing the world of Vince Lombardi is Jack Magaw (scenic designer), Jaymi Lee Smith (lighting designer) and Janice Pytel (costume designer).

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