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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Green Bay area native is Broadway bound

Chris Henry Coffey will play Joe DiMaggio.
Eric Simonson
Eric Simonson

PHOTO: Green Bay area native Chris Henry Coffey will play fabled New York Yankees hero Joe DiMaggio in “Bronx Bombers,” which opens in February on Broadway.

GREEN BAY, Wis., (WFRV) – Baseball icon Joe DiMaggio connects to actor Chris Henry Coffey connects to Green Bay in the new play, “Bronx Bombers,” headed to Broadway.

There are more connect-a-dots in this tale.

The play already has had an Off-Broadway run. Much more hoopla will attend its move to Broadway, the mecca of American theater.

Previews start Jan. 10 leading up to a Feb. 6 opening at Circle in the Square.

Coffey started at Circle in the Square before going on to earn his acting degree at Yale University, his mother, retired music teacher Rita Kilmer of Green Bay, told me. She also said her son has had bigger parts in his career, but the character he is playing this time and being on Broadway add significance.

A career highlight is working with great American playwright Arthur Miller (“The Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman”) in the premiere production of Miller’s “Resurrection Blues.”

Coffey is a graduate of West De Pere High School.

“Bronx Bombers” is written and directed by Wisconsin-born Eric Simonson. It’s the third sports-related Broadway play for Simonson. The first was “Lombardi,” about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. That play ran for eight months at Circle in the Square. “Magic/Bird,” about basketball stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird,” ran for a month. “Bronx Bombers” will be Simonson’s Broadway directing debut.

Cast in “Bronx Bombers” are two actors from “Lombardi.” Bill Dawes played Packers star running back Paul Hornung in “Lombardi.” He is Mickey Mantle and Thurman Munson in “Bronx Bombers.” Keith Nobbs played the reporter who is allowed into the Lombardi household in “Lombardi.” He is manager Billy Martin in “Bronx Bombers.”

The producers of “Lombardi,” Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser, are the producers of “Bronx Bombers,” which is from a concept by Kirmser.

The play re-visits the New York Yankees through time. Featured are Peter Scolari and his wife, Tracy Shayne, as Yogi Berra and his wife, Carmen. Also in the cast are Francois Battiste (Reggie Jackson and Elston Howard), Christopher Jackson (Derek Jeter), John Wernke (Lou Gehrig) and C.J. Wilson (Babe Ruth).

“Bronx Bombers” had a limited engagement Oct. 8-19 at The Duke on 42nd St.

As with “Lombardi” and “Magic/Bird,” this play will have “special partners” in sports organizations, this time Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)

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