A musical version of Rocky and a stage show based on the life of Jesse Ventura are just two of the sports-themed productions in the works for Broadway. Here are some jock-centered shows that have already hit the footlights.
Runt of the Litter
Where MCC Theater, New York City, opened Jan. 31 SYNOPSIS Written and performed by former Oilers defensive back Bo Eason, the one-man show follows the ruminations of defensive back Jack Henry in the locker room before a Super Bowl. Henry is to face his older brother Charlie, dubbed "the greatest quarterback of all time." The plot is partly autobiographical: Bo's older brother Tony had a 10-year career as a quarterback and led the Patriots to Super Bowl XX. Bo played four unspectacular seasons. CRITIQUE "Semiautobiographical solo [shows are] often a prescription for indulgence. Eason delivers the rare exception with this funny, sometimes lacerating but ultimately sunny view of a life deformed by the mistake of living someone else's dream."
—Robert Hofler, Daily Variety
Where Storm Theater, New York City, opened Feb. 8 SYNOPSIS Written by Tony Award winner William Hauptman, the play features Hall of Fame NFL running back John Riggins (above, with costar Shaula Chambliss) in the lead role of Mickey Hollister, a self-proclaimed good ol' boy from Texas who journeys to Gillette, Wyo., to work on oil rigs. On the way he picks up a hitchhiker who's an aspiring country singer fleeing his day job. The two meet a pair of women and fall in love, after which the trip goes awry. CRITIQUE " Riggins, the best thing about the play, has more charisma than you'd expect. He has a future on the stage and deserves more than this sleazy production to work with."
—Jason Zinoman, Time Out New York
Joe Louis Blues
Where 14th Street Playhouse in Atlanta, opened Feb. 9 after a six-week run in L.A. SYNOPSIS A fictional account of Joe Louis's relationship with musicians in a Harlem nightclub, it examines boxing and music in African-American life. Louis wanders into the New York City club the night he wins the heavyweight crown, meets Leila, a jazz singer, and the two begin a steamy relationship. Ultimately, Leila's ambition to become a star is thwarted by racism, and Louis's boxing talent can't help the couple overcome harsh social realities. CRITIQUE "Playwright Oliver Mayer's characters are authentic and his evocation of early 1940s nightlife (helped by dozens of classic recordings from the period) maintains a grip on audience interest."
—Joel Hirschhorn, Daily Variety