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Magic/Bird : Not Your Average Broadway Show

Magic/Bird is the newest show to enter the Broadway spotlight, with previews continuing though the first part of April. Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the LA Lakers were the biggest of rivals, with the best of friendship in the end.

Having the opportunity to attend a preview showing of this multi media, multi dimensional six-person play was more then just a pleasure. This show will be able stand tall on Broadway, especially with the male support that each performance will bring in to the theater.

Now I am no Broadway buff, however stereotypically the ladies seem to enjoy the song and dance more so than their male counterparts. The audience to this showing included a significant amount of males, who clapped with a standing ovation visually showing their appreciation of the accuracy and the humor this show depicted of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s dislike to love relationship.

The first attention grabber to me was the very start of the show where there was a “PA announcer” and he introduced the cast as if it were the starting line up of a basketball team. The audience hooted and hollered, as did the other cast members. This introduction created the courtside atmosphere that needed to be partnered with a show depicting the lives of two of the NBA’s best. He said the actor’s real name and whom they were representing. Other than the lead two people as Bird and Johnson, the other remaining four actors had multiple roles.

On Broadway there are more ways to get an idea across then dialogue and song, and Magic/Bird used every other multimedia genre that is available. A screen at the back of the stage was used on occasion to show clips from the NBA and college games where Johnson and Bird played. Different stat charts were pulled up and coupled with dialogue to show how close in statistics these two players, who were drafted the same year, really were. Newspaper articles were projected on a screen that came down occasionally in front of the stage, this screen was sheer so everyone could see what was going on in the background. Radio clips of different achievements and games throughout their careers were used.  Song clips that would be used in an arena to rile up the crowd came across the speakers in the theater making you think you were in an arena at a ball game.  Johnson’s press conference after his diagnosis played in the background while Kevin Daniels depicted his press conference on stage in front of us all.

Daniels (who played Johnson) and Tug Coker (who played Bird) began the show with a phone call. This was the call after Johnson’s diagnosis of HIV became public. Bird said, “you alright man?” to start off their conversation. The timeline of the show then took you through their separate lives before and during their professional basketball careers, and when their friendship finally flourished during a commercial shoot for their respective converse sneakers, and brought it all the way back full circle to end at the same phone call.

It took us through the three NBA finals that featured Johnson and Bird, through the MVP votes that were used to decide who would get the MVP of the season, the to the tragic wall that hit Johnson with a disease to still have no cure.

These two amazing basketball players were so very similar it was uncanny. Except for the fact that Bird is white, and Johnson is black. This is something that shouldn’t matter; yet it seemed to be an idea that would pop up during questions from the media

This portrayal of these two individuals was real, accurate, and emotional. Humor popped up in all the right spots.

Weather you’re a basketball fan, a sports fan, or even just a Broadway junkie, Magic/Bird will not disappoint. I recommend this performance for all.

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Jackie Daly

Jackie Daly has been with In The Zone since 2012. Her contributions have been mostly in NHL and special events coverage. Jackie has been a writer, video host, and podcast host with ITZ. She currently co-hosts Tea Time with Mel and Jay. Outside ITZ, Jackie works with MLS's New York City Football Club and the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
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