"Magic/Bird" Will Attempt To Lure Patrons With Mix Of Basketball And Broadway
The upcoming Tony Ponturo/Fran Kirmser-produced Broadway play "Magic/Bird" "seems determined to do something unconventional: recruit first-time theater-goers while satisfying the expectations of Broadway regulars," according to Scott Cacciola of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Ponturo said, "I think 'Lombardi' helped in the sense that it gave credibility to the concept of a sports play on Broadway. There's an understanding now that you can bring something different to that particular entertainment space." Cacciola reports the “one factor working in the new play's favor” is the backing of Basketball HOFers Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Kirmser said the two are the "underlying rights holders." He added that they “have been involved with the creative process.” Eric Simonson, who wrote the script, has “consulted and interviewed them.” Johnson “even sat in on a table reading of the script in Los Angeles this summer.” Cacciola writes the play “won't necessarily be a hyper-critical portrait of the Hall of Famers.” However, Ponturo said that “it was clear to him Johnson and Bird wanted the script to be honest and accurate.” At the same time, Ponturo “doesn't consider the suggestion that the play is a ‘feel-good story’ to be pejorative.” The show, which opens March 21 and features six actors, "will consist of 20 rapid-fire scenes over 90 intermission-free minutes.” The idea is “to give the production the uptempo feel of a basketball game while covering plenty of material.” Just as they sought the NFL's endorsement of "Lombardi," Ponturo and Kirmser went to NBA Commissioner David Stern “last December for the league's cooperation.” An NBA spokesperson said that Stern “gave the project his enthusiastic approval” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/22).