Powerful Performances Boost Lombardi

LombardiLegendary football coach Vince Lombardi is the subject of an intriguing new play called Lombardi. The show opened in previews at Ocean State Theatre Company on November 6 and runs through November 24.

Playwright Eric Simonson based his script on the David Maraniss book, When Pride Still Mattered – A Life of Vince Lombardi.

Lombardi was a Hall of Fame football coach who turned the losing Green Bay Packers into winners. Under his leadership from 1959 through 1967, the team won five NFL championships. “I have never been on a losing team, gentlemen, and I do not intend to start now!” Lombardi once said to his players.

Lombardi is portrayed by Robert Ierardi in a stunning, tour de force of acting bravado. Ierardi commands the stage, bellowing commands and words of encouragement and sometimes criticism. Michael (Joel Kipper), a reporter for Look magazine, arrives at the Lombardi home to do a profile on the temperamental coach. Michael meets Lombardi’s long-suffering wife, Marie (Jennifer Byrne), who is wary of her husband’s obsession with winning.

Lombardi suffers from stomach pains and sleepless nights, consumed with the need to win. Coming in second is simply unacceptable to Lombardi, who pushes his players to work together and give it their all in every game. Winning is an attitude, Lombardi explains at one point in the play.

Byrne and Kipper share a lot of scenes together as the reporter tries to get at the core of Lombardi for his story. Both actors bring a lot of passion and energy to their roles. The direction by Amiee Turner is taut and tightly focused. Terrific supporting performances are provided by Barthelemy Atsin as Dave Robinson, and Todd Berkich and Thomas Schario in the roles of Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor.

Lombardi is a sometimes comic, sometimes bittersweet look at a true sports legend.

Ocean State Theatre is located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick.

Tickets are $30 for preview performances and $34-$49 for all other performances. Discount rates for groups of 20 or more are available by calling (401) 921-1777 x112. $25 “Rush” tickets are available on a limited basis one hour prior to curtain on the day of the performance. Tickets are on sale at the box office Monday through Friday from 12 noon – 6:00 pm, Saturdays from 12 noon – 4:00 pm, and from 12 noon until curtain time on performance days. Tickets are also available online 24 hours a day at www.OceanStateTheatre.org and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling 401-921-6800.

 

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