Given Josh Beadle’s passion for theater and football, it made perfect sense for the executive director of Three Brothers Theater to stage the play “Lombardy.”
The drama follows a slice of the life of Green Bay Packers coach and Professional Football Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi as he leads his team to a championship season. It runs Nov. 11 and 12 at Waukegan’s Genesee Theater under Beadle’s direction.
“There’s something special for me about combining two things that I love so much: theater and football,” Beadle said. “‘Lombardi’ is a great insight into an amazing coach. It shines a light on a fascinating character in American history.”
Vince Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers football team to three straight conference championships in the 1960s. The team won the first two Super Bowls at the end of the 1966 and 1967 seasons. The trophy was later named after Lombardi, who died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 57. Each winter, a National Football League team is awarded the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy.
There are many statistics regarding Lombardi, for example, his regular season winning percentage was around 74%.
But the play takes the audience deep into Lombardi’s psyche, revealing some subplots even football fans don’t know about.
The play premiered on Broadway in 2010 and was based on the nonfiction book, “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,” written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss. The play, written by Eric Simonson, was staged during the 1965 season when the Packers were at the top of their game.
Reporter Michael McCormick wants to interview Lombardi and his players about building a winning team, but Lombardi doesn’t want some of the players to talk, because they might reveal some secrets. McCormick and Lombardi got into a fight in front of the players.
The reporter then goes to Lombardi’s wife who offers some interesting fodder about her husband’s decision to accept the Green Bay coaching position.
Portraying the American icon is Michael May, who teaches English and social studies and coaches girls volleyball at Robert Abbott Middle School in Waukegan. May said that as a coach he understands Lombardi’s drive to win life.
“Lombardi has a strong personality. He’s loud and he’s a little in your face. He wants to do his best,” May said. “He didn’t let anything get in the way during football season.”
“When I coach volleyball, we practice as easily as any other team in our league. My eighth grade girls won their 11th consecutive city championship,” May said.
Lombardi emphasized that it takes perfection and mental toughness to build a winning team. May is a Chicago Bears fan but has friends who are Green Bay Packers fans and as soon as Lombardi got the part to play, he told them.
While reading and rehearsing the play, May learned that Lombardi was more of a perfectionist than he thought. He added that there is a lot of friction in the play, for example when the reporter and Lombardi come face to face.
“For this scene, I would approach it like a father and a son and the son is not doing what I told him to do,” May said.
He added that audiences will see a softer side of Lombardi. May said, “There’s a little bit of sunshine coming out now and then, there’s a quick thunderstorm … you see in that play how dedicated his players are and you see them who He didn’t have a good relationship with him.”
May’s favorite scene is when Lombardi faces Paul Horning, a professional football Hall of Famer who was a halfback and field kicker for the Packers.
“You see the full range of Lombardi’s personality in this scene,” May said.
Beadle says May brings “fire” and “a lot of energy” to Lombardi’s role. May has been rehearsing with his long hair and his usual coiffure of a beard, but a week before opening night he said he would shave it all off to look like Lombardi and really get into the part. will go.
May said she is looking forward to portraying Lombardi in front of audiences.
They said that when they come to see the play, their eyes will be opened to see who he really was, all the good and all the bad.
when: 7:30 pm November 11; November 12 at 2pm and 7:30pm
Where: Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan
Information: 847-263-6300, geneseetheatre.com
Cheryl Devore is a freelance reporter for the News Sun.