Lombardi Performance Raises $310,000
On Tuesday, students, alumni, parents and faculty gathered at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York City to watch a benefit performance of Lombardi, a new Broadway play directed by Thomas Kail ’99. The event raised $310,000 for the University’s Athletics and Financial Aid departments.
After the performance, Kail spoke with President Michael Roth about his time at Wesleyan and his journey to Broadway.
“During the lively exchange onstage with President Michael Roth after the play, Kail said he believes that coaching and directing are ‘basically the same thing,’ and added that he was drawn to the project because he cares about motivation and leadership,” wrote Gemma Fontanella Ebstein, University associate vice president of External Relations, in an e-mail to The Argus.
Kail credited his start in theater to Second Stage, and fondly recalled his professors during his time at the University.
“Where else except at Wesleyan, he said, could he have found an authority on Revolutionary War America (Richard Buel, Professor of History, emeritus) to support his honors thesis on Eugene O’Neill,” Ebstein wrote.
He also talked about forming a black box theater company with other University alumnae in New York after graduation. In the Heights, the successful musical starring and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, managed by Bill Sherman ’02, and directed by Kail, came out of this theater company.
“Kail spends time currently at both In the Heights and Lombardi, describing his role as having shifted from creative to maintaining the artistic integrity of the shows,” Ebstein wrote. “[He] also talked about doing live shows with Freestyle Love Supreme [who performed on campus during Homecoming weekend in October], which takes suggestions from the audience and does a different show every time.”
After the talk, guests mingled with Kail, actors from the performance, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss, who wrote When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, the book that the play is based on. Ebstein was pleased with the performance and the money it raised.
“In true Wesleyan spirit, guests lingered until closing, enjoying connecting with fellow members of the Wesleyan community during the post-play reception,” Ebstein wrote. “It was a successful evening for the University. In addition to the excitement of raising $310,000 through sponsorships and ticket sales, everyone was thrilled to be part of the second Wesleyan-on-Broadway benefit performance, and many were already inquiring about the next one!”