THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON” SCORES A HIT IN WESTPORT
BONNIE GOLDBERG

“That Championship Season” chronicles the twentieth reunion of the 1952 winning Pennsylvania State basketball team, the coach and four of the players from Fillmore High School.  The men annually gather to rehash those moments of glory when, in the game’s last few seconds, they made the winning basket to take home the trophy, final score 72-71.
 Until Saturday, September 12, “That Championship Season” by Jason Miller, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and New York Drama Critics Circle, will score points at Westport Country Playhouse, under the direction of Mark Lamos.

 Coach (John Doman) is still the men’s chief cheerleader, mentor and all-around troop leader.  He still clings to the philosophy “Lose in not in our vocabulary.  I made you winners…If you quit on the field, you quit in life.”  He persists in wanting his men to be “lean and mean” and winning at all costs continues to be the game plan.

 Today the old boy’s club is plotting the political campaign of George (Robert Clohessy) as he wages a fight to win a second term as mayor.  He desperately needs the financial support of Phil (Skipp Sudduth), a man who has made his fortune in strip mining, without giving any concern to the environment.  Brothers Jim (Lou Liberatore) and Tom (Tom Nelis) are each struggling with their own burdens: Jim is overwhelmed with responsibilities even as he wants to be seen as successful and Tom is battling an addiction to alcohol and clearly losing.

 As secrets are revealed and loyalties and friendships are tested, small- minded prejudices surface and the cement that glued their brotherhood is shattering.

 For tickets ($35-55), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, off route 1, at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org.  Performances are Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

 Watch this union of men hang out all their dirty and personal laundry on the communal line of a sports victory that they may not have deserved to win.

This review originally appeared in the Middletown Press.

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