After a sold-out world premiere reading in May 2015, Barrymore Award-winning Theatre Exile plans to bring you a full-scale production of Tommy and Me by Ray Didinger. This autobiographical play recounts a seminal time in Ray Didinger's life as he helps his boyhood hero, Tommy McDonald, reach his goal of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Show is made possible with support from WIP, Zallie Supermarkets and Comcast SportsNet.
This special engagement production will take place August 3 through August 14 at FringeArts, 140 North Columbus Blvd. Tommy and Me will feature performances by Theatre Exile's Associate Artistic Director Matt Pfeiffer along with Tom Teti, Ned Pryce and Simon Canuso Kiley, who will be making their debut on Theatre Exile's main stage. This world premiere production will be directed by Founding Artistic Director Joe Canuso with Bruce Graham (The Philly Fan, Rizzo) as script consultant. Thom Weaver (Set and Lighting Designer), Katherine Fritz (Costume Designer), Mike Kiley (Sound Designer), Michael Long (Video Designer) and Flora Vassar (Props Master) will help audiences travel through time and space as we follow a young Ray Didinger on his journey from worshiper to friend of Tommy McDonald.
Ray Didinger told Neal Zoren of Del Co times “the play is a personal story about hero worship; It’s about my relationship with Tommy and all he evoked in me while I watched him as a child and got to know him over many years. Tommywas always my favorite player. When I joined a football team, I wanted his number (25). His was always my most coveted football card.”
On April 20th, 2016 Theatre Exile launched a Kickstarter Campaign, in hopes of raising the funds needed to produce this full scale production. Contributions of any value can be given. Contributions of fifteen dollars or more will be rewarded with perks ranging from name listings in the Tommy and Me program to signed Eagles memorabilia to sit ins at live broadcast at WIP Sports Radio. Access to the Kickstarter campaign can be found on April 20th attheatreexile.org/tommyandme and will run through May 13th.
Ray Didinger is an award winning sports writer. Among his many distinguished acknowledgements, he won the McCann Award which is presented by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) in recognition of long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football. He also won six Emmy Awards as a producer and writer with NFL Films. He is the author of eleven books on sports, including his three most recent bestsellers: The Eagles Encyclopedia, One Last Read, and The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies. Among his many media outlets, Ray is currently a host on 610-WIP all-sports talk radio, and appears on Comcast SportsNet TV as the primary analyst on Eagles Post-Game Live.
Tommy McDonald is a Hall of Fame football player. He was in the NFL for 12 years as a wide receiver. He was drafted by the Eagles in 1957 and played on the team until 1964. He was instrumental in taking The Eagles to the 1960 NFL Championship game, played at Franklin Field in Philly. The Eagles won against the Green Bay Packers coached by Vince Lombardi.
About Theatre Exile
Founded in 1996 by Joe Canuso and Trish Kelly, Theatre Exile was created by a group of artists who wanted to rattle the gates of the mainstream. In 2013 Deborah Block was named Producing Artistic Director after 7 years of serving as Co-Artistic Director. Drawn to plays that explore the complexities of the human condition and contain a sense of true Philadelphia grit and passion, Exile has produced 61 full-scale productions, including 15 world premieres and 29 Philadelphia premieres. It was the first Philadelphia organization to produce such powerhouse playwrights as Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts, Noah Haidle, Rona Munro, David Harrower, Annie Baker, Rajiv Joseph, Mike Bartlett, Sharr White and Lucas Hnath. In accordance with their desire to support the development of engaging and thought-provoking theater, in 2010 Theatre Exile established Studio X-hibition, a forum to showcase plays in process. For their excellence in producing theatre, they have received 74 Barrymore Award nominations, with fourteen awards total. Theatre Exile believes in freedom of expression formulated through innovation, exploration and provocation, all while providing a safe and creative environment, in which local artists can grow, experiment and ultimately, find their own voice.