The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Bronx Bombers

A New Yogi Berra for Bronx Bombers on Broadway The Off-Broadway Production Turned Out to be a Preview for a Broadway Transfer . . .

Bronx Bombers
The new Yogi Berra and wife: Peter Scolari (Yogi Berra) and Tracy Shayne
The play has moved to the Circle in the Square Theater with some fine tuning and a new Yogi Berra and wife: Peter Scolari and his wife Tracy Shayne. The configuration of the theater allows for the same physical set-up of the production. With the new Yogi and devoted spouse as well as the push and support of the sports community, hopefully the transfer will support a successful run. Except for the cast changes, our original review, re-posted herewith, still applies.

February 20, 2014 Update: The planned open ended run has turned into an early closing for the show. The final performance will be 3/02/14. -- e.s. The current production notes:
Bronx Bombers written and directed by Eric Simonson
Cast: Cast: Francois Battiste (Reggie Jackson/ Elston Howard), Chris Henry Coffey (Joe DiMaggio),Bill Dawes (Mickey Mantel/ Thurman Munson), Christopher Jackson (Derek Jeter), Keith Nobbs (Billy Martin) Peter Scolari (Yogi Berra), Tracy Shayne (Berra's wife), John Wernke (Lou Gehrig.)
Circle in the Square Theatre 235 West 50th Street 212-239-6200
From 1/10/14; opening 2/06/14; open-ended
Performance Schedule: Tuesday - Saturday @8pm Wednesday and Saturday @2pm, Sunday @3pm
Beginning February 7: Tuesday - Thursday @7pm Friday and Saturday @8pm Wednesday and Saturday @2pm, Sunday @3pm
Tickets range in price from $67 to$137.

The Review During the Premiere Run
"From all of us here, it's a huge honor to put on this uniform every day... Every member of this organization... calling this place home for the last eighty-five years... the greatest fans in the world ... We are relying on you, to take the memories from this stadium... continue to pass them on from generation to generation... — Derek Jeter to Yogi Berra, the torch bearer for this anthem in Bronx Bombers.
Bronx Bombers
Richard Topol as Yogi Berra (the original Berra) and Christopher Jackson as Derek Jeter who in Bronx Bombers gets to sum up what Bronx Bombers is all about.
(Photo credit: James Leynse)
No question, playwright Eric Simonson is hooked on America's favorite pastime. In Lombardi his focus was on legendary football manager Vince Lombardi. In Magic Bird the story line revolved around basketball stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who were rivals but also friends. His latest, Bronx Bombers, is an ode to the spirit of baseball's Yankees.

In order to populate his play with the starriest players in the team's history, Simonson uses an explosive 1977 battle between Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson to establish a dramatic arc. He casts Yogi Berra, known even non baseball aficionados through his much quoted Berra-isms, as the referee and peacemaker. It's a tough job that Simonson eases by brnging on legendary old timers like Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, Joey Martin. This feast of iconic players is dished up via a favorite literary device, a dream scene.

Of Mr. Simonson's three sports-themed plays I've now seen (I actually saw Lombardi in a Berkshire trial run as well as on Broadway), Bronx Bombers, comes closest to being a real play. Unlike the other ventures, it has no books and videos on the same subject to invite negative comparisons and the actors, a number of whom appeared in the previous productions, have more to work with.

That's not to say that the playwright isn't relying on the crowd pleasing nostalgia evoked by a play about an era whose top of the line players were at one time known at least by name and sight to a huge general public. Nor does the mix of bio-drama and fantasy ever really escape a tendency to come off as contrived, predictable and overly seasoned with hokey sentiment. That's why the producers, who include The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball as associates, have wisely mounted Bronx Bombers in an Off-Broadway rather than a Broadway house, and for a limited run.

While the Duke on 42nd Street seats far fewer people than a Broadway house it serves the play very well. It's a very flexible venue and for this play has been reconfigured to seat the audience all around the stage. Beowulf Boritt has created a very open playing area to accommodate each act's two scenes, each with a different setting: The first act which takes place right after the Billy Martin/Reggie Jackson blowup shifts from a hotel room to Yogi Berra's New Jersey home; the second act is still in the Berra home, but this time in the dining room from which the action fast forwards to the Yankees' locker room. (Bravo to what's probably the hardest working, most efficient crew of prop workers in town).

The playwright, who also directs, has done a commendable job of guiding his actors' movements with an awareness of the problems inherent in this type of all-around seating. Richard Topol as Yogi Berra looks nothing like pictures I recall seeing, but the gait and speech pattern seem right on the mark. Actually, there's been no attempt to make any of the actors really resemble their real life counterparts. and in the case of Chris Henry Coffey's Joe DiMaggio and C. J. Wilson's Babe Ruth this is rather distracting.

As in Lombardi, there's only one female character. Wendy Makkena is fine, as Yogi's loving and loyal wife Carmen. Thanks to the costume designer David C. Woolard and wig designer Paul Huntley she easily shifts from pillow talk, to hosting a dinner party, to older and still cheer leading spouse. But it's not quite as perfect a fit as the Mrs. Lombardi part was for Judith Light.

The entire cast works well together. The standout performances are by the two actors whose dugout battle is the play's reason for being. Francois Battiste, who also made a strong showing in Magic Bird, is an attention holder, both as Reggie Jackson, and Elston Howard, an earlier black player. Keith Nobbs, is a knockout as the volatile Billy Martin and also as a journalist, similar to the one he portrayed in Lombardi.

Brown Bombers is a feel good slice of American sports lore and a chance for Eric Simonson to write glowingly about an era he love. I think three dramatic outings to the sports arena are enough. But the playwright may disagree and invite us all to some eventful gathering at the Forest Hills Tennis Club.

Bronx Bombers
Cnceived by Fran Kirmser
Written and directed by Eric Simonson
Cast: Francois Battiste (Reggie Jackson/ Elston Howard), Chris Henry Coffey (Joe DiMaggio),Bill Dawes (Mickey Mantel/ Thurman Munson), Christopher Jackson (Derek Jeter),Keith Nobbs (Billy Martin) Richard Topol (Yogi Berra), John Wernke (Lou Gehrig.)
Sets: Beowulf Boritt
Costumes: David C. Woolard
Lighting: Jason Lyons
Original Music and Sound: Lindsay Jones
Wigs: Paul Huntley
Stage Manager: Kelly Glasow
Running Time: 2 hours with intermission
Primary stages at The Duke on 42nd Street 229 West 42nd Street
From 9/20/13;; opening 10/08/13 closing 10/19/13.
Tuesday-Thurs 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2&8pm, Sun 3&7 pm.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at October 2nd press preview
The New Similes Dictionary
New Similes Dictionary

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2013, 2014 Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from