Learning from a Legend: 'McGuire' by Dick Enberg set to run at Milwaukee's Next Act Theatre

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A one-man show is coming to Milwaukee on July 14 for a limited run.

Marquette alumnus and Tony Award winning actor, Anthony Crivello, stars as the legendary Marquette basketball coach and broadcaster, Al McGuire, in the play McGuire by Dick Enberg.

CBS 58'S Mike Strehlow spoke to Crivello on CBS 58 Sunday Morning in 2017 when Crivello played the same role at the Milwaukee Rep, but the July 2022 performance at Next Act Theatre will be new and improved.

"It's terrific. I mean it is, to climb back into the character as well, it's just a wonderful experience," Crivello told CBS 58'S Jenna Wells.

Crivello is taking on Al McGuire again at Next Act, a one-man play performed in a three-quarter round stage set-up.

"Coach al is a load to strap to your back. It's me onstage alone for 90 minutes. That's 36 solid pages of dialogue that i'm doing," Crivello said.

The show is written by McGuire's close friend, fellow broadcaster Dick Enberg.

"Hall of fame broadcaster, wonderful, wonderful man. Unfortunately we lost Dick a few years ago. His wife Barbara is now in charge of the estate, and she's in full support. She's actually going to be here opening night," Crivello said.

Between McGuire and Enberg, the play truly sheds a light on two sports icons - the subject and the author.

"It's Al McGuire the icon who is a basketball coach and also broadcaster, and it's Dick Enberg, hall of fame broadcaster as well, who stated about Al McGuire how special a man McGuire was, and personality he was," Crivello explains.

He stressed this play isn't just biographical - it's a learning experience.

"It's a beautiful tribute to Coach, but it's also filled with his philosophies about life and the way he lived his life," Crivello said, "It's not a play just about basketball. It's about life, and an approach to life."

For Crivello, portraying the character comes easy. Along with studying his movements and speech through old footage, he was able to watch Al McGuire in action for years.

"I had the great experience of being - I was a Marquette cheerleader - of being about 25 feet away from Coach, and once in a blue moon having a conversation with him," Crivello said.

The show is presented by Rech Entertainment. Crivello and the directors are using McGuire's well-documented wit and wisdom as a driving force to tell his story.

"You see it on his face, it's nothing but joy," Crivello said, pointing to the bronze statue of McGuire inside Marquette's Al McGuire Center, "So that's the approach we take to this as well. You can see what's encapsulated in the statue, is a joy."

Crivello hopes those who share a great regard for Al's legacy will bring their children and grandchildren to see the show, as McGuire remains a symbol of Marquette and Milwaukee culture since the 1960's.

"You go through the Al McGuire Center and you see nothing but trophies and jerseys. Al McGuire was an innovator and a showman," Crivello said, "It is part of the empire, if you will, that al McGuire helped to build."

McGuire runs July 14-31, 2022 at Milwaukee's Next Act Theatre, with the possibility of a tour in the future.

There are some surprises in store for attendees at this month's run.

"We have some special things that are going to happen opening night and throughout the run. Al's dignitaries, players all know about it, being invited, we're going to also invite the current team, main men and women, we want them to come see the show. So, if you come and see the performance, you never know who's going to be sitting next to you," Crivello said.

It's much more than just another performance for Anthony Crivello. It's a celebration of a man who changed Marquette basketball forever, and touched his life personally.

"We hope, and I hope as well, that I'm at least paying an honest tribute to a man that has meant so much to the city of Milwaukee, and frankly, beyond, to basketball," Crivello said.

Click HERE for tickets to McGuire at Next Act Theatre.

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