BWW Review: Marquette Basketball and MCGUIRE Captivate Milwaukee at Rep's Stackner Cabaret

BWW Review: Marquette Basketball and MCGUIRE Captivate Milwaukee at Rep's Stackner Cabaret
Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

Marquette University, Milwaukee and Al McQuire became synonymous during the coach's tenure with Men's Basketball during the 1970's. To celebrate the illustrious legacy, Milwaukee Repertory Theater captivates the audience's enthusiasm and excitement in the Stackner Cabaret. After the university hired McGuire in 1964, the showman coach propelled the men's Basketball team to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship. Now on stage to begin the 2017 winter season, McQuire's endearing story returns to the city and university that made him famous in their intimate, stellar one man production directed by Brent Hazelton and featuring multiple award-winning actor Anthony Crivello.

In a fresh adaptation of a show first written and produced in 2005, Hall of Fame broadcaster and author Dick Enberg captures the essence of this charismatic figure in basketball and Milwaukee history. McGuire, born and bred in his father's New Jersey bar, acquired street smarts behind the counter that forever dominated his life. His mother bequeathEd McGuire with the lifetime motto: If your'e doing things right, you're doing good. To carve this mission and empathetic McGuire persona, Crivello embodies the Irish Catholic who claimed he broke every commandment except murder, and genuinely loved his college basketball players. The coach devoted his life to recruiting players who lived in front of cracked concrete and openly convinced their mothers to let them play, promising he would make sure each player acquired their "papers"-a college diploma along with playing Division I NCAA basketball.

While McGuire had a passion to win games, he wanted his players to 'bounce," as he called this, be successful well after their college basketball career ended. To his credit, basketball players under McGuire's supervision achieved their papers, a diploma, while a total of 26 players continued on to the National Basketball Association, the pros. One player even achieved a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership after an injury prevented him from continuing in his star NBA career, so he indeed bounced higher than most, only one of two pro ball players to ever receive a Ph.D.

The entire productions speeds by as fast as a full court dribble and fabulous lay up to score a winning evening. Kristen Ellert-Sakowski's iconic videos play on stage behind Crivello depicting real life action from the Marquette legacy amid Noele Stollmack's's lighting design. This collaborative effort returns the audience to those glory years when Basketball Hall of Fame McGuire ruled the court from his coach's bench, inciting technical fouls with his temperamental style that endeared him to fans. If any audience member remembers the 1977 NCAA Championship run, Maguire's then Warriors (instead of the present Golden Eagles whose name changed in 1993) were crowned the Cinderella team after being the very last team invited to the prestigious tournament that year--a miracle in and of itself without even winning because they held the worst season record of all the tournament teams.

While the production might benefit from two acts-one featuring Mcguire's background and the road to the championship, and the other, Mcguire's NBC broadcasting career and philanthropic work at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin-the no intermission show captivates audiences with this fabulous Milwaukee legacy for those who love basketball or those who appreciate an outstanding one man performance in Crivello. Celebrate with The Rep when they explore an extraordinary life and man who loved basketball, that while certainly human and down to earth, believed as did Don Quixote: Life's impossible dreams do come true.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents Dick Enberg's McGuire at the Stackner Cabaret in the Patty and Jay Baker Theater complex through March 19. For special events, performance schedule or ticket information, please call: 414.224.9490 or visit:

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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan

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