Lombardi: A play for men and women

In the aftermath of the Super Bowl and the football frenzy it generated, Capital City Players is presenting the play “Lombardi.”

The story follows Green Bay Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 season when they are trying to win a championship. A writer for “Look Magazine,” Michael McCormick, is assigned to do a story to find out what makes the man tick. Players don’t want to be interviewed because of loyalty to the coach and the writer eventually goes to Lombardi’s wife, Marie.

Director Rob Crouse first heard about the play from Tom Durkin, a local actor who acted professionally in New York and Los Angeles and roomed for a time with Dan Lauria, who played Lombardi in the original Broadway show.

Crouse was so impressed with the script he decided to bring it to Jefferson City.

He is quick to point out that the show is not only the story of the coach and his ability to bring out the best in players, but the love story between Lombardi and Marie is essential to the plot.

Although the two argue often, she is the woman behind the man, and her love and loyalty helped him to achieve his success. One of the quotes that she gives the writer is that in their lives, it is “God, Packers and family.”

Lauria has helped with some of the smaller details to help with the character of Lombardi to make him as accurate as possible, such as what brand of cigarettes he smoked.

Even though the show did not have a long run on Broadway, the name Lombardi has propelled it to appeal to men as well as women.

According to Crouse, “A lot of times the husband comes to a show with his wife but isn’t really interested in the play.”

The fact the show is about a football coach seems to generate interest in men as well.

The story takes place in a short time span, but also shows past events in a series of flashbacks accomplished with lighting techniques.

Warren Krech plays Lombardi and has been working on the role for almost a year to achieve the vocal qualities and the body movements of the coach. Joni Weinbaum plays Marie. Jerico Whitaker portrays the writer, Michael; Branden Bise portrays Paul Hornung; Dan Zaiger plays Jim Taylor; and Zondwayo Beze rounds out the cast as Dave Robinson. The actors have enjoyed exploring the script since the beginning of January and have worked very hard to develop believable roles and the camaraderie that a football team has.

Crouse said he feels the show is inspirational for a family — particularly for youths in the junior high to high school level — because it is the story of a man of principles who would not compromise.

He agreed with the conclusion that Michael realized after he had written his story, that Lombardi was “the most imperfect, perfect man,” he ever met.

What: Capital City Players’ production of “Lombardi”

When: Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28-March 3, evening shows at 6:30 p.m.; matinee at 12:30 p.m. on March 3

Where: Shikles Auditorium, 1310 Linden Drive, Jefferson City, Mo.

Tickets: $35 per person includes dinner. Available at (573) 681-9012 or online at www.capitalcityplayers.com.

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