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Thomas Kail to Direct MAGIC/BIRD; Creative Team Announced


Producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo (Lombardi) announced today members of their creative team. Tony nominee Thomas Kail (Lombardi, In The Heights) will reunite with Lombardi playwright and Oscar winner and Emmy Nominee Eric Simonson on MAGIC/BIRD, a new play chronicling the intertwined life stories of two of the most influential figures in sports and pop culture of the past 25 years, basketball Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Earvin ‘Magic' Johnson.

The creative team is David Korins (Set), Howell Binkley (Lighting), Paul Tazewell (Costumes) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound) and Wendell K. Harrington (Projections), who will weave historic NBA film footage throughout the play.

The play will be produced in association with the National Basketball Association, marking the organization's first foray on Broadway. Johnson and Bird themselves have participated in the creative process of this completely original play.

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. The play, with a six character cast, will premiere at a Broadway theatre TBA in Spring 2012.

Thomas Kail (Director) was nominated for a 2008 Tony Award® for his direction of In the Heights. Off Broadway: In the Heights (Callaway Award, Drama Desk nomination, Outer Critics nomination) New York City Center: The Wiz (Lincoln Center). Theater: Lombardi (Circle in the Square), Broke-ology (Mitzi Newhouse). Williamstown: Broke-ology (World Premiere). National Tour: In the Heights. Co-creator and director of the hip-hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme, which played the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, US Comedy Arts Festival, Montreal Comedy Festival and Melbourne Comedy Festival. Artistic director and co-founder of Back House Productions. TV: Directed Oprah Winfrey's 2010 Primetime Oscar Special for ABC; directed pilot episode of Storymakers for AMC; Co-Music director and consulting producer of PBS show The Electric Company. Recipient of the 2008 Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center. Graduate of Wesleyan University, CT.

Wendell K. Harrington, Projectionist: Received the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and American Theatre Wing Award for The Who's Tommy on Broadway. Other Broadway shows include, The Capeman, Ragtime, Gray Gardens, Having Our Say, Heidi Chronicles. Off Bway, Angels in American and Rap Guide to Evolution, many operas, ballets and concert tours including Simon and Garfunkel and Chris Rock. She designed the Player introductions for the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty MSG and heads the Projection concentration at the Yale School of Drama.

David Korins, Set Designer: Broadway: Chinglish, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange, Bridge and Tunnel, Annie (upcoming); Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Hewes awards as well as the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design.

Paul Tazewell, Costumes: Broadway: Lombardi; Memphis (Tony nom); Guys and Dolls; In The Heights (Tony nom.); The Color Purple (Tony nom.); Hot Feet; Caroline, or Change; A Raisin in the Sun; Bring in 'da Noise... (Tony nom.); On the Town

Howell Binkley, Lighting Designer: Current B'way: How To Succeed (2011 Tony nom), Memphis, Jersey Boys, Avenue Q, and formerly Lombardi. Five time Helen Hayes Award recipient. 1993 Olivier Award and Canadian Dora Award for Kiss of The Spider Woman. 2006 Tony Award, Henry Hewes Design Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Jersey Boys. Proud co-founder of and lighting designer for Parsons Dance.

Nevin Steinberg, Sound Designer: Broadway with director Thomas Kail: Lombardi and In The Heights (Tony nomination). Thirty Broadway productions, four Tony Nominations since 2001.

This is the second original project undertaken by Ponturo and Kirmser. Together they share a common vision of bringing new, original plays and musicals to a wide, diverse audience of theatergoers, initially combining the drama of sports and entertainment through Kirmser/Ponturo Group. Lombardi, and now Magic/Bird are the first two products of that vision.


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