Eric Simonson’s Magic/Bird, a drama about the basketball legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, will open at the Longacre Theatre on April 11. Producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, who made the announcement today, also confirmed that previews will begin March 21. The announcement comes just two days after it was confirmed that David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish would end its Longacre run at the end of this month.
The play tells the story of not only the fierce rivalry between the two stars and their respective teams (Bird’s Boston Celtics and Johnson’s L.A. Lakers), but also the friendship between the two in the 1980s. The producers of the show offer this statement about the show:
At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports history, two of the greatest basketball players of all-time battled for three championships, bragging rights, and the future of their sport in the 1980s. Johnson and Bird electrified the nation on the court, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into one of the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports.
Tony Award nominee Thomas Kail will direct the play that will star Kevin Daniels as Johnson and Tug Coker as Bird. Other cast members include Deirdre O’Connell, Peter Scolari, Rob Ray Manning, Jr. and Francois Battiste. All of these actors will play three different roles in the performance.
The producing team of Kirmser and Pontruo also previously worked with Tony nominee Simonson on his previous Broadway sports play “Lombardi,” which focused on its namesake’s legendary National Football League coaching career. “Lombardi” ran on Broadway from September 23, 2010 to May 22, 2011 for a total of 274 performances, including previews.
The new play apparently has the approval of Bird and Johnson, as well as the NBA. In fact, historic NBA film footage will be projected throughout the show.