This week the producers who brought "Lombardi" to Broadway go back to the bright lights with their latest cross-over venture, "Magic/Bird," the beyond-the-game story of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The play began previews on Wednesday night as it leads to an April 11 opening at the Longacre Theater.
The 90 minute drama will feature actors Kevin Daniels as Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Tug Coker as Larry Bird, as well as Deirdre O’Connell as Georgia Bird/Shelly/ Patricia Moore, Peter Scolari as Red Auerbach/Jerry Buss/Pat Riley, Rob Ray Manning Jr. as Michael Cooper/Henry Alvarado/Frank, and Francois Battiste as Jon Lennox/Ron Baxter/Willy.
While fans of “Modern Family” may also recognize Daniels for his recurring role on the hit show, the biggest name in the cast is Scolari, best known for his roles in “Bosom Buddies” and “Newhart,” among other places. His talents may be best challenged in carrying off the different roles of three basketball icons from different eras, while Coker and Daniels concentrate on getting down the look, feel, and maybe shots of two of sports' greatest stars and living legends.
New Jersey native Tony Ponturo, along with his co-creator Fran Kirmser, will again attempt to lure the sports fan to Broadway and bring the theater goer another special glimpse at the drama of sport, much like they did with the Tony-nominated "Lombardi" last year during its landmark eight month run. This effort will get multi-media and marketing support from the NBA, much like their previous effort got from the NFL. (Can MLB or maybe boxing be next, if this is successful?).
The 90-minute drama will look at the Bird/Johnson relationship in a similar way that the great Jackie MacMullan biography, the HBO special and the recent ESPN documentary have, except this one will be live on a Broadway stage, giving it what will probably a be a very unique spin. Between Magic/Bird and the Knicks' resurgence, the area could be in for a vibrant mix of basketball this spring for a change.
For all the details check out magicbirdbroadway.com.