We’ve heard it said that opposites attract. That theory has once again been proven through the rivalry and friendship that has sustained basketball legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The dynamic and charismatic, always smiling Magic Johnson, and the one word answer, monotone, less is more Larry Bird, certainly maintained fierce competition on the court and off, but their warm friendship built out of respect for each other’s talent and intrigue by their stunningly different personalities endured.
Chronicling both the competition and the care and concern is the new Broadway show Magic Bird.
This new sports themed play by the same producing team that created the NFL supported Lombardi, and directed by Thomas Kail, begins the story of the Johnson/Bird friendship with the news of Magic’s HIV diagnosis in 1991.
And the journey of their initial dislike and rivalry, which morphs into admiration and friendship, is well crafted.
The actors who play the central characters do a great job of suggesting the basketball legends who they are portraying. Kevin Daniels as Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Tug Coker as Larry Bird are entirely believable.
To find super tall performers who resemble the athletes, and play basketball, must have been some challenge. I would have loved to have been at that casting session.
The cast rounded out by Peter Scolari, Francois Battiste, Robert Manning Jr. and Deirdre O’Connell are adept at changing characters, and in some cases even voices and accents.
There is a little bit of basketball playing and a lot of bonding. I must admit I do enjoy male oriented stories in the theatre. There aren’t enough of them.
Like Lombardi, this show is pulling in fathers and sons, brothers and friends who might not ordinarily spend an evening at the theatre.
And, for me, that is a slam-dunk.