Photos by @kris.mayeshiro and @km2creative
By Paul Atreides
Let’s make this perfectly clear: I know nothing about sports and even less about football. But the name Vincent Lombardi is one even I can’t claim to be ignorant about. The iconic Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for the iconic coach, is awarded each year to the winning team of the Super Bowl.
But you don’t need to be a football geek or even a general fan of the game to fully enjoy Lombardi by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Mattered – a Life of Vince Lombardi. The play is not about football, it’s about the man.
Directed by Jacob Moore and now playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT), the production is engrossing. While the plays and stats may go over the head, the larger-than-life titular character does not. Moore has done an excellent job in guiding his cast.
T.J. Larson plays Lombardi in stature and vocal tone and speech patterns so convincingly that, when the real thing is on a video screen at the back of the stage or a voiceover plays, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Larson is completely in it for the win, and it shows in every nuance.
Playing his wife, Marie, Diane King is a wonder. She’s got the supportive but not-taking-any-crap attitude down pat. King lands first downs so well that not a single one merited a flag; she always got the laugh.
The story provocation is third-string writer Michael McCormick (Ricky Gray, Jr.), who is in town for the playoffs to write an article for Look magazine. Gray comes on excited but unsure of the physical as well as in voice. Yet, he conveys slow a transition through the course of the play as he gains confidence and stands up for his principles.
Anthony Gomez, Sloan Hickson, and Tommy Watanabe as Packers players round out the cast. If there was a nit to make, it would be with Hickson playing Dave Robinson whose soft personality can be difficult to hear in the back row at times.
Walter Niejadlik’s set design effortlessly moves the action from the locker room to the playing field to the Lombardi home and beyond. A goalpost at the back of the set contains a video screen where clips of Packers games occasionally play out during some dialogue.
Add in Ginny Adams’ lighting and wonderful atmospheric sound done by Ernest Medina, and the entirety adds up to a very solid production.
This is a terrific opportunity to understand how the Lombardi Trophy tradition came about before this year’s Superbowl. Lombardi is a winner with nary a flag to be seen.
When: 8 p.m. Friday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays through February 5
2 p.m. Saturday, January 28
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre-Mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $30 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: ***** Irresistible
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Jacob Moore; Set Design: Walter Niejadlik; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Costume Design: Julie Horton; Sound and Video Design: Ernest Medina; Stage Manager: Sammi Gonzalez