BY Brandon Voss
November 16 2010 6:15 PM ET
Not since Take Me Out has a play made me care about sports like Lombardi, an NFL-produced bio-drama at the Circle in the Square Theatre — and without gratuitous male nudity! Based on the book When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss, Eric Simonson’s solid tribute to Vince Lombardi, cantankerous head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967, stars the commanding Dan Lauria of The Wonder Years fame. But who’s the real boss of Lombardi? Gay rights activist Judith Light, who’s luminous as Vince’s martini-sipping wife and the play’s emotional 50-yard line. Keith Nobbs, who played gay in Stupid Kids and Four, also stars as a magazine journalist researching a profile of the man who turned losers into Super Bowl champs. I still don’t know much more about Mr. Lombardi other than stats, but I’m a sucker for inspirational speeches about heart and honor.
It may call the Neil Simon Theatre home through January 9, but Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles is more of a cover band concert than a Broadway musical. Unlike what Million Dollar Quartet did for another fab foursome, Rain doesn’t re-create Beatles history — though it does pay multimedia homage to milestones like their Ed Sullivan Show breakout and 1965 Shea Stadium concert. Unlike what Jersey Boys did for the Four Seasons, Rain doesn’t use biographical facts to showcase songs. Unlike what Mamma Mia! did for ABBA, Rain doesn’t use fiction as a framework either. But I’m not raining on Rain’s parade, because the crowd-pleasing playlist, which the men skillfully perform live, sounds pretty authentic. Their long-in-the-tooth Liverpudlian looks are another story, so I watched the psychedelic projections and nostalgic videos, hoping for a surprise gay exposé on Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
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