by Eric Simonson
directed by Eric Simonson
originally produced at Primary Stages,
New York, NY.
September 20, 2013
through October 19, 2013
Ruth. Berra. DiMaggio. Jeter. The New York Yankees has never had a shortage of star players. This World Premiere examines how baseball’s most storied franchise has always remained focused on maintaining a great team, even when dealing with some of the game’s most iconic and tempestuous personalities.
Bronx Bombers marked the first time that Primary Stages produced a play exploring the excitement, drama, and personalities of professional baseball. The story is told through the eyes of Hall-of-Fame catcher Yogi Berra who provided valuable insights, both personal and into the team dynamic, throughout the development of this new work. He was chosen as the central character because of his long history with the New York Yankees, as player, coach, manager, broadcaster, and advisor.
When we first set out to produce the world premiere of Bronx Bombers we were attracted to the idea of developing a story about the New York Yankees. However, there was only a treatment presented to us when we began the process in December 2012. Knowing that we would be going into production in September, we had to fast-track the development of the play.
In June, Executive Producer Casey Childs, Artistic Director Andrew Leynse, and Playwright / Director Eric Simonson as well as many of the actors who would be in the production, went out to the Perry- Mansfield New Works Festival to concentrate on the play itself. We had the opportunity to present the play as a rehearsed reading to the audience and obtain an immediate response to the script. Simonson continued to revise the script at the Festival and subsequently in another reading at Primary Stages at the beginning of July 2013.
In August we began the rehearsals for the production, generously extended by the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, with previews starting in September. For the first time in our 30-year history we were able to present a production in the round (mirroring a baseball diamond) which allowed us to take an artistic risk as well as allowing the audience a much more intimate experience, fully immersing themselves in Yankees history.
Bronx Bombers also marked the first time a play was produced in association with the New York Yankees franchise and Major League Baseball, who were brought on as partners, and to ensure the historical integrity of the production. We were thrilled to work with official Yankees vendors who fashioned period-approved uniforms for each character. This was the first time in Yankees history where actors wore authentic Yankees uniforms on stage. Throughout the development of the script and production we were proud to support the playwright and his artistic process with the utmost integrity.
We saw enormous potential for the play’s continued success, and thus welcomed the opportunity to provide script and production development to give the play the best opportunity for a long life beyond Primary Stages. This was affirmed as attendees regularly came to the show adorned in Yankees jerseys and apparel, and the show generated a level of fan excitement amongst the audience that was truly special and rare for off-Broadway theater. We are pleased to report that shortly after Bronx Bombers’ Off-Broadway run with Primary Stages concluded, the show announced a transfer to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre for January 2014.
Thanks to the Edgerton Foundation’s generous contribution, we were able to provide the necessary developmental opportunities for Bronx Bombers to achieve these levels of success.
The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award allowed Primary Stages to extend the originally budgeted rehearsal period for Bronx Bombers an additional week. This afforded our creative team and cast crucial extra time to meet the challenges that come with developing a new play. This grant proved most advantageous for Playwright / Director Eric Simonson who utilized the additional week of rehearsals towards script development and character refinement with the company of actors. We are proud to report that this play, whose development was significantly bolstered by the additional week of rehearsals, has transferred to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre.
Director: Eric Simonson
Additional funding for the production was provided by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.