Few people know the real story of football's most legendary coach, Vince Lombardi. Through his inspirations and passions, he had an ability to drive people to achieve more than they ever thought possible. Arizona Theatre Company's "Lombardi" centers on the iconic Green Bay Packers coach during a pivotal week in 1965. This Southwest premiere production of the Broadway hit plays at the Temple of Music and Art and runs from October 20 – November 10, 2012. It continues its run in Phoenix at the Herberger Theater Center from November 15 – December 2, 2012. "Lombardi" is supported by Opening Night Sponsor, Kate Garner. Arizona Theatre Company Season Sponsors are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.
"Lombardi" is written by Academy Award winner, Eric Simonson, and based on the book "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, David Maraniss. Arizona Theatre Company's production of "Lombardi" will be directed by Casey Stangl and co-produced with Cleveland Play House. "Lombardi" moves like a seamless drive down the field from start to finish," wrote the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and the NY Daily News said, "'Lombardi' scores!"
Although the NFL Super Bowl trophy is his namesake, Lombardi remains a man of legends and myth. But "Lombardi" explores the man behind the legend. In November of 1965, youthful Look Magazine reporter, Michael McCormick, gets the opportunity to write the sports article of a lifetime. His boss Tom Ryder arranges for him to stay a week as the house guest of Vincent Lombardi and is given unprecedented access to the practice field. Ryder, it turns out, is a friend of Lombardi's. Just how close a friend comes to light during the course of the play, forcing both McCormick and Lombardi to re-examine their morals and ultimately, their respective career paths. Lombardi's all-too-human strengths, vulnerabilities and flaws are gradually, and sometimes grudgingly, revealed through the actions and reminiscences of Lombardi, his wife Marie, and a core group of loveable, veteran football players.
When asked what motivated him to write this play, playwright Eric Simonson said, "I have always been fascinated with people in our culture, American culture, who have such a force of personality that they've somehow made themselves part of the cultural landscape. Vince Lombardi is one of those people. You could also say that about folks like Theodore Roosevelt, Frank Lloyd Wright…any number of people. These people have not only influenced the cultural landscape, they also had fascinating lives. For me, Vince Lombardi was a football coach, but he was much more than that. He was a philosopher, he was a teacher, he inspired a lot of people through what he said and the way he said it. He's a fully dimensional man, a complicated man, more complex than people realize."
Eric Simonson (Playwright) was the director and co-writer (with Jeffrey Hatcher) of ATC's acclaimed production of "Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright" in 2002. His plays and adaptations include "Magic/Bird"; and "Lombardi," on Broadway; "Slaughterhouse-five," off-Broadway; and numerous plays which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago: "Nomathemba" (written with Ntozake Shange and Joseph Shabalala), "Carter's Way" and, most recently, "Honest and Fake." Other plays include "The Last Hurrah"; "Louder Faster" with Jeffrey Hatcher (commissioned by ATC); "Edge of the World" and "Speak American." Simonson's work has been produced in Japan and throughout the United States at theatres including Huntington Theatre Company, L.A. Theatre Works, City Theatre of Pittsburgh, The Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Madison Rep, Kansas City Rep, and Crossroads Theatre Company. Simonson directed the Broadway production of "The Song of Jacob Zulu," which received six Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Direction. He also is an accomplished film and opera director. With Campbell Scott he co-directed "Hamlet" for Hallmark Entertainment, as well as three documentaries for HBO: "Studs Terkel – Listening to America," Emmy nomination; "A Note of Triumph," earning Simonson a Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Award; and "On Tiptoe," Academy Award nomination. In 2005 he received a Princess Grace Statue Award for Sustained Artistic Achievement.