When the curtain rose on a preview performance of “Lombardi” at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre on Friday, October 15, the audience included more than sixty University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni and friends who had just enjoyed personal insight into Vince Lombardi, the man and “Lombardi,” the play. Prior to the show former Badger athletic director, Pat Richter (’64 BS ALS, ’71 JD LAW), who played for the legendary coach, and David Maraniss, author of the biography on which the play is based, joined the Badger group for a reception and conversation. The event was a benefit to support the Wisconsin Union Building Campaign and the Great People Scholarship Campaign.
Host Mark Guthier, director of the Wisconsin Union, described the rich traditions that surround the Green Bay Packers, Broadway and the UW-Madison. Patrick Callan, president of the Wisconsin Union Directorate, represented students and thanked attendees for their support. He also extended an invitation to visit the new Union South, which opens in April 2011.
Former Badger Athletic Director and Washington Redskin wide receiver Pat Richter played his final NFL season under coach Lombardi. Richter, who also was the player representative at the time, said Lombardi demanded commitment and commanded respect, but occasionally showed a gentler side. During a post-play discussion, he said actor Dan Lauria’s portrayal of the man Richter remembered was “eerie.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Madison native, David Maraniss, has been involved in the production since its inception. His biography, “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi” traces Lombardi’s entire life, but focuses on his years as Packer head coach and his relationship with his wife, Marie, and his players.
The Wisconsin Union Building Campaign began with a 2006 student referendum, in which students voted to restore and renovate Memorial Union and to construct a new, sustainable Union South.
The Great People Scholarship Campaign is Chancellor Martin’s main priority for the UW-Madison and supports the future artists, scholars, educators and scientist who will lead our economy with innovative ideas and technology.
“Lombardi” opened on Broadway October 21 and stars Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”) and Judith Light (“Who’s the Boss”).
Special thanks for making the evening possible to Wisconsin Union board members Miriam Boegel, Ruth Brown, George Cutlip, Susan Lipp, Barbara Manley, Robert Perlstein, Naomi Rhodes and Doris Weisberg along with volunteers Gina Gialamas, Susan Lipp, Christine Lodewick, and Liz Tiefenthaler.
Thanks also go out to the George Kress Foundation, David Kurrasch, Walt Pancoe, an anonymous donor and Ruth Brown; Susan and Jonathan Lipp – Full Compass Systems in Madison for the sound system; Seth Stern – Something Different Party Rental in Paterson, NJ; Liz and Todd Tiefenthaler – Kramer Printing; Jerry Sibal – Design Fusion for the flower arrangements and John Landolfini for his photographic expertise.