The Playgoer: People Like Sports

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Friday, February 18, 2011

People Like Sports

The surprise success of the Broadway season has been Lombardi, a tepidly reviewed but loyally attended bio-play about the famous football coach or yore.

The reason? Men like sports!  Every now and then Broadway benefits from a title that the reliable female patrons can finally drag their male companions into going with to--thus virtually doubling ticket sales. Or, as the producers put it: "One of the things we learned from ‘Lombardi’ is that if you bring content to Broadway that will interest the consumer, maybe people who don’t go to Broadway will come."

And why stop at football! The producers are planning a quick follow up:

Like “Lombardi,” “Magic/Bird” will be written by Eric Simonson, based on interviews with the two players. It will be produced in association with the National Basketball Association, which will provide marketing help and video and film footage, the same role the N.F.L. played with “Lombardi.” And the theater lobby will be filled with memorabilia on display, as the Circle in the Square Theater’s is for “Lombardi.”
Pandering, you say?  Pandering like a fox!  First, I don't doubt these producers and author Simonson's genuine enthusiasm for the subject, and I'm sure the fans would sense otherwise.

Ultimately, this goes to the core question everyone asks about a play: what's it about? Other than to see a big star or great singing and dancing, folks buy tickets to shows about stuff they care about.  So kudos to these guys for finding that niche.


Unknown said...

It's nice to see Simonson has found this niche since his last two non-sports plays at Steppenwolf Theatre were...well, how can I put this kindly? They were horrible.

RLewis said...

Beware: just like sequels, these types of follow-ups rarely do as well as the first one did. I love Larry and Erving, but I got a bad feeling about this.