High Scores for LOMBARDI at The Eagle Theatre

by Jack Shaw

Vince Lombardi yells a lot, but who doesn’t yell in football? You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy LOMBARDI at The Eagle Theatre, where the action is non-stop, and the dialogue witty, often funny, and telling. The Eagle Theatre has produced another terrific show.

If you only thought they did musicals, think again.

LOMBARDI is one Eagle Theatre drama an unusually mixed audience will remember fondly. I’m sure there were folks who have never seen a play who came because it was about football and the “man,” and they sat among the theatre lovers. Yet, no one seemed disappointed in the result. I suppose if you suffer headaches easily, the volume of Lombardi’s yelling could possibly prompt one; still, the show’s worth it.

Members of the cast of LOMBARDI at The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, NJ. (Photo credit: Chris Miller)

Members of the cast of LOMBARDI at The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, NJ. (Photo credit: Chris Miller)

David T. Wills is uncanny as Lombardi, while Marianne Green brings definite chemistry and provides the balance as Marie Lombardi. Tim Rinehart is great as Michael McCormick, weaving in and out of scenes seamlessly to tell Lombardi’s story. Tim has that kind of smooth. And not to forget our football stars: Franklin Anthony as Dave Robinson, James Eckstein as Jim Taylor, and Peter Zielinski as Paul Hornung. Each actor made these players individuals who also had story to tell.

Aptly directed by the talented Ted Wioncek, III, LOMBARDI has a lot of nice touches that make it real and some surreal. That’s okay. Lombardi, the iconic figure, deserves it. He is after all, “one of the most inspirational and quotable personalities of all time.” I loved the 1960s set with the cherry wood walls, the sofa and chair with liquor caddy—all authentic reminders of the period. He’s obviously selected the perfect actors. I also liked the idea of real video footage in the background.

The play, written by Eric Simonson and based on the book, When Pride Still Mattered: The Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss, gives the audience a picture of the man—a man who can’t stay away from football, picking up losing teams that never gave up and gives them new life. Lombardy as portrayed in this play is a perfectionist who is not perfect, but he is a good man. I can’t help but believe that the characterization is dead on.

“Football is more than just a game. LOMBARDI is more than just a play.” Even I have to agree with both statements. Football is more complicated than we give it—as is the play—as is the man, Lombardi. Michael McCormick (Tim Rinehart) from Look Magazine has come to interview the team and the coach to find out how he gets his teams to win, what drives him.

Spoiler alert!

In the end, we learn it’s not about seeking perfection, but more about getting the best out of yourself. That seems a healthy obsession. McCormick learns that, too. It’s the difference between “getting the job done” and getting the job done right.”

The Eagle Theatre and everyone who worked on LOMBARDI got the job done right! As the theatre company usually does.

Written by Eric Simonson
Based on the book
When Pride Still Mattered: The Life of Vince Lombardi
by David Maraniss
Directed by Ted Wioncek
September 20- October 12, 2013
The Eagle Theatre
208 Vine Street
Hammonton, New Jersey
(609) 704-5012

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