Kail ’99 Directs Broadway Sports Play and Interviews Stage Directors

Thomas Kail '99

Thomas Kail ’99 will direct Magic/Bird, an upcoming Broadway play based on the relationship between basketball superstars Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, due to open on March 21. The work is produced by Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo who also produced Lombardi, the Broadway play about Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, which Kail also directed.

The new production has a cast of six actors and contains 20 scenes lasting 90 minutes. The play will try to capture the energetic pace of a basketball game while covering a number of events in the lives of the two legendary players.

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about casting Magic/Bird, Kail “said sports merely forms the framework of the play. There are some big issues being explored … such as how athletes cope with their own mortality and how ‘enemies become brothers.’

” ‘The process of how two people can become defined by one another is fascinating to me,’ said Kail.”

Thomas Kail '99, center, directs Magic/Bird about the friendship of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird - Photo by Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

Playbill.com reports that Kail has also conceived a new podcast series, “In Conversation With…,” which showcases Broadway directors and choreographers and airs biweekly. The series began Nov. 17 at americantheaterwing.org. Introduced by Harold Prince, these discussions with Kail deal with the directors’ distinct visions and their work process. In the first five podcasts, Kail speaks with Jason Moore, Joe Mantello, Alex Timbers, Susan Stroman, and Moisés Kaufman.

The conversation “Thomas Kail and Alex Timbers” is currently available online. Kail and Timbers talk about their impulse to start their own theater companies and create new work. They also discuss those who have inspired and influenced them as directors.

To listen to the podcast “In Conversation With…” interviews, click here.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: dlow@wesleyan.edu