You can observe a lot by watching, Yogi Berra once said. Now New York Yankees fans can watch the malaprop-spouting legend on a Broadway stage. The Bronx Bombers, which opened this month at Off Broadway’s Primary Stages, will transfer to the Circle in the Square, with previews starting Jan. 10, 2014 before an official opening on Feb. 6.
Peter Scolari, who played opposite his Bosom Buddies costar Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy last spring, will play the now 88-year-old player-turned manager. He’ll be joined by his real-life wife, Tracy Shayne (Chicago), as Berra’s wife, Carmen. They replace Richard Topol and Wendy Makkena, who are leading the Primary Stages production. (Topol himself is a last-minute sub for Sopranos star Joe Pantoliano.)
The Bronx Bombers is the latest sports-themed stage play conceived by producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, this time joined by the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball as “special producing partners.” Kirmser and Ponturo’s previous ESPN-friendly ventures haven’t exactly been grand slams at the box office: 2010’s Lombardi ran for eight months and earned a Tony nomination for Judith Light as the wife of the famed football coach, while 2011’s Magic/Bird closed a month after its premiere. (Seems they took to heart Berra’s advice, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”) Playwright Eric Simonson, who scripted all three shows, will make his Broadway directing debut on The Bronx Bombers.
Aside from Scolari and Shayne, the rest of the cast are holdovers from the current Off Broadway production, including Francois Battiste (Reggie Jackson), Chris Henry Coffey (Joe DiMaggio), Bill Dawes (Mickey Mantle), Christopher Jackson (Derek Jeter), Keith Nobbs (Billy Martin), John Wernke (Lou Gehrig), and C.J. Wilson (Babe Ruth).