Tony Crivello Returns In ‘McGuire’

Tony-winning Milwaukee native stars in fresh staging of one-man show about legendary Marquette basketball coach.

By - Jul 12th, 2022 03:08 pm
Photo taken by Ed Morgan at rehearsal of McGuire by Enberg, provided by Rech Entertainment Company

Photo taken by Ed Morgan at rehearsal of McGuire by Enberg, provided by Rech Entertainment Company

Back in 2017 the Milwaukee Rep scored a major success at its Stackner Cabaret theater with a sold-out, one-person play about Marquette University’s legendary basketball coach who became a major TV sports commentator.

McGuire starred Broadway lead actor and former Marquette student Tony Crivello who as a Marquette cheerleader enjoyed Al McGuire’s antics only 20 feet away from them many decades ago (I also attended Marquette and also enjoyed McGuire up close long before Al’s Run became a staple of Milwaukee children’s charities.) Tony winner Crivello had pushed to have this show done even before the Rep gave it such prominence. He is sticking with it.

And no wonder – it’s an ideal showcase for his acting chops. Crivello (now in his late sixties) is a Milwaukee native who began his career hereabouts — at the Sunset Playhouse, for one outlet. The production is Crivello, embodying Al in a workmanlike script from TV commentator Dick Enberg, a McGuire friend and TV partner who saw the show before he died in 2017.

But now it’s back in Milwaukee. Plucking out my 2017 review from Urban Milwaukee’s memory machine, it details what made Crivello’s performance in Enberg’s script (both unchanged though the production is new) so winning.

Among the quotes still relevant: “In lesser hands – and without a Marquette-friendly audience opening night – the 100-minute journey might have dead spots, but with Crivello it is acted superbly…. screen projections and photos name-drop all the MU athletic greats that rode with McGuire to national prominence from 1966 to 1977, until he turned a few years later to broadcasting…Crivello catches the curly-haired look, grim jaw, sudden grin and broad New York accent and combative manner…a portrait that comes close to turning McGuire into the wisest, bluntest, happily vulgarest seer of our society.”

I venture to predict that all this remains true given the talented new director, Ed Morgan, a veteran name in local professional shows, and the emphasis by Rech Entertainment on retaining Enberg’s script but enhancing the opportunities to build McGuire’s personality into the play – as if Crivello needed the help. He was magnetic at bringing McGuire to life when I saw the play.

Rech Entertainment is also a veteran local outfit, busy from Potawatomi Northern Lights to the old Alpine Valley, and it is renting out Next Act Theatre’s attractive, three-sided theater at 255 S. Water St. The theater only seats 152 and the engagement is limited — July 14-17, 21-24, and 28-31, Thursdays through Sundays including Saturday matinees. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to local charities. Box office number is 414-278-0765.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article referred to the company as Reich Entertainment. It is Rech.

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