At first glance, Lombardi runs the risk of traveling into cheesy TV biopic territory. Led by two televisions stars who haven’t been relevant to pop culture since the 80s, the play focuses on the life of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who was famous for leading the Green Bay Packers to an astonishing five championships. The Super Bowl trophy is named after him (as is a service area on the New Jersey Turnpike). This man’s career wasn’t filled with failure, nor was his life, with his happy marriage to Marie Lombardi. These initial red flags completely fade, as Dan Lauria and Judith Light give delightful and commanding performances and playwright Eric Simonson uses Lombardi’s life to tell an interesting story that comments on celebrity and media.
Budding journalist Michael McCormick arrives at the Lombardi household on a profile writing assignment of the football coach. The Lombardis host him for a week, over the course of which Lombardi flip flops between practically making him the team mascot and punting him off the field for his constant prying and interrupting of Lombardi’s rigid practice rules. Things really heat up when Lombardi demands to see Michael’s article before it’s published, setting off the play’s most interesting aspect of censorship and journalistic ethics.
Lombardi is an extremely fun, yet simple story that gives an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at a hot NFL team in the 1960s. Directed with great energy by Thomas Kail, the show keeps a steady pace as these characters become increasingly watchable. I felt like I could watch what happened inside the Lombardi household for hours. Read more