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New play explores steroids in baseball, trend capitalization

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We're always excited here at Sports Pros(e) when our love of theatre and love of sport collide. Such is the case with playwright Itamar Moses' timely tale "Back, Back, Back," which is set to debut at Dallas Theater Center next month.
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The play is a thinly veiled look at the early careers of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and the infamously chinless Walt Weiss -- or at least three characters whose biographies resemble those of Canseco, McGwire and Weiss during their back-to-back-to-back rookie of the year runs with the Oakland A's.

Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News wrote about the play in his column yesterday, and talks to a few of the actors about their roles. He writes:

"Moses only takes license with dialogue and the notion that baseball players might prove the least bit introspective.

Anyone who's ever walked around a clubhouse or locker room knows the conversation rarely runs more than ankle deep.

But then if we held the arts to the letter, Damn Yankees would have been a lot of spittin' and scratchin'.

If Canseco and McGwire and Weiss had actually given voice to any doubts or fears or regrets, maybe this is what they would have sounded like."

Even more than sports-related theater, we enjoy sports-related theater marketing copy. Here's DTC's write-up for the show:

"Back Back Back is a rollicking saga of two of America's greatest pastimes: baseball...and running from the past. In a tense drama spanning two turbulent decades of modern baseball history, acclaimed playwright Itamar Moses penetrates the sensational headlines to reveal the human reality of the sporting life and the complex pressures that lead some men to cheat. As the action moves swiftly from field to field, locker room to dugout, big league to expansion clubs, we follow the stories of three Major League players, with all the potential in the world. But the course of their baseball careers couldn't be more different. Does greatness always come with a price? Do nice guys really end up in seventh place? Can only someone with nothing to lose tell the whole truth? With its sharp wit, ironical twists and brilliant psychological insight, Back Back Back is a fresh new play that's certain to spark lively conversation."

Baseball has certainly been -- for better or worse -- a consistent presence in theatre. Recent shows that come to mind include the one-man piece "Nobody Don't Like Yogi," made famous by Berra look-alike Ben Gazzara (for you New York Times crossword enthusiasts). Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out" explores the probably-not-in-our-generation scenario of a Major League star revealing his homosexuality. Lee Blessing's "Cobb" and Rebecca Gilman's "The Sweetest Swing in Baseball" have also had significant playing time.

And if you're a Chicago theater/baseball fan, chances are you're all-too familiar with "Bleacher Bums," which originally starred Chicago actors Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz in the late 70s. A 2002 movie version starred Brad Garrett, Wayne Knight and Hal Sparks.

We'll be interested to see the reviews on "Back, Back, Back." Chances are slim that they'll make great steroid-related revelations, but it's an interesting notion to think that any of these athletes actually underwent any emotional journey in making the choice whether to juice.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on February 17, 2009 8:19 AM.

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