Lee Blessing’s Cobb opened its run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on November 8, 2000. The drama, based on slugger Ty Cobb’s life, first opened at the Melting Pot Theatre in late spring. While at the Melting Pot, the show hit a home-run with Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who decided to support the show financially. Now the Melting Pot (in a “special arrangement” with Spacey and Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions) is presenting Cobb in an open-ended run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre off-Broadway. Broadway.com was onhand at the theater and at Lot 61, where the cast celebrated at a World Series-class opening night party courtesy of GQ Magazine.
Kevin Spacey formed Trigger Street in 1997 to develop and produce compelling entertainment in a variety of mediums. Trigger Street produced, with the Almeida Theatre Company at the Old Vic, the London revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. Tirgger Street also produced, with Emanuel Azenberg, the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh, which was nominated for five Tony Awards. Lee Blessing’s Cobb is the latest theatrical production for Trigger Street. Trigger Street’s first film The Big Kahuna was released by Lion’s Gate in April 2000, written by Roger Reuff, directed by John Swanbeck and starring Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Peter Facinelli. With a variety of other productions in the works for both film and theatre, including developing Trigger Street’s first digital feature film, Trigger Street is also creating several series and film ideas for television and cable.
From the Cobb PLAYBILL, 2000.
November 17, 2000
Cobb Reviewed by Victor Gluck
Presented by The Melting Pot Theatre Company by arrangement with Trigger Street Productions and Kevin Spacey at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, NYC.
Opened Nov. 8th for an open run.
Ty Cobb may have been the greatest player in baseball history, but he was also “the meanest man in baseball.” Lee Blessing’s powerful and fascinating play, “Cobb,” which has now moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre from a run at the Melting Pot Theatre Company last season, shows the man with all his imperfections. The play is more than a study of baseball: as Blessing’s Cobb tells us in the opening scene, his life was a Greek tragedy from the beginning. Blessing fantasizes Cobb interacting with himself at three stages of his life: the young ballplayer in his prime, the successful businessman, and the broken old man in retirement. Playing these personas, Michael Sabatino has the passion and youthful exuberance of the beginner, Mathew Mabe* has the cynicism of the millionaire star, and Michael Cullen has the anger of the misanthrope who feels cheated and misunderstood. The only other character is Cobb’s nemesis, Oscar Charleston, known as the “Black Cobb,” played with subtle power by Clark Jackson. Director Joe Brancato keeps the play unfolding like a mystery, yet never lets the transitions or multiple characterizations become confusing. Each Blessing play creates an entirely new dramatic form. “Cobb” brings the protagonist back from the grave to defend his life. As he tries to white-wash or reinvent himself, the earlier selves unwittingly offer pieces of the puzzle: his mother shooting his father when Cobb was 17, his continual fights and convictions, his rivalry with Babe Ruth, his years as star player of the Detroit Tigers when no one would room with him. And yet this was the first player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the man who led the record of 96 stolen bases for 47 years, and turned baseball into the national pastime and sports into big business. BACK STAGE page 56
*Mathew Mabe was on Broadway with Kevin in The Iceman Cometh in 1999.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
May 26, 2000
On Stage and Off: A Star Rebuked by Equity By JESSE MCKINLEY
< snip >
Kevin Spacey Steps Up As far as pinch hitters go, there are not many people you’d rather have in your dugout than Kevin Spacey. Just ask the current cast and crew of “Cobb,” the 1989 drama by Lee Blessing about the irascible baseball legend Ty Cobb who starred for the Detroit Tigers in the early years of the century. The show, which received good reviews but has had only decent audiences, was to have closed its run at Theater 3 on West 43rd Street last Sunday. But then Mr. Spacey entered the game.
Last Thursday night, Mr. Spacey, a recent Oscar winner for “American Beauty,” saw “Cobb” during a sweep through New York between films. The draw, he said, was Matthew Mabe, who plays the title role and was an understudy last year in “The Iceman Cometh,” in which Mr. Spacey starred. “I figured I should go to support Matthew,” said Mr. Spacey. “Plus, I never knew anything about Cobb.” What he found so impressed him that when he heard about the imminent closing, he pulled out the theatrical equivalent of a Louisville Slugger: his checkbook.
Neither Mr. Spacey nor officials at the Melting Pot Theater Company, the producers, are saying how much money Mr. Spacey gave, but it was enough to extend the run at least two weeks. Mr. Spacey has been phoning “anybody who’ll take my call” to get producers to see the show. “It’s the kind of theater I like to encourage,” Mr. Spacey said. “I don’t mind kicking up a little dust to get people to pay attention to something like this.”
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company
THE NEW YORK POST June 11, 2000
Page 6: Spacey Strikes out at rival ‘Cobb’ by RICHARD JOHNSON with PAULA FROELICH and CHRIS WILSON
A TINY Manhattan theater company is blaming Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey for killing its production of “Cobb” just days before opening night. Thomas Sullivan, artistic director of GreenLight Theatreworks, secured the rights to put on “Cobb” in the basement of St. Mark’s Church in April, but was forced to shut down after Spacey financed the extension of a rival production of the play starring Spacey’s pal Matthew Mabe.
The Dramatists Play Service revoked Sullivan’s contract to put on “Cobb,” about crusty baseball legend Ty Cobb, before it was to open on June 2, citing a Spacey-financed extension of a commercial run of “Cobb” at Theater 3, from May 21 to June 4. Now, Spacey and the play’s other producers are close to booking their version of “Cobb” at a bigger venue.
Mabe, who will reprise his role of the young Ty Cobb at the new location, was an understudy last year in “The Iceman Cometh,” in which Spacey starred. A steamed Sullivan charges that his version of the 1989 drama by Lee Blessing was put on ice just because Spacey wrote a check to keep his friend’s production going.
“Kevin Spacey and the producers for the Theater 3 play didn’t want our show to continue; they didn’t want any other competition out there,” Sullivan told PAGE SIX. “Now, I’ve had my rights revoked and I’m out $6,000 of my own money that I’ve already spent [on the production].” Sullivan says that since the Spacey-sanctioned “Cobb” is a commercial production, his non-profit theater group’s “non-professional” rights were superseded. “I don’t think I have much recourse,” he said, “but I think they’re being a little paranoid. We’re not a threat to them at all. We’re just a basement production with 40 seats.”
Larry Hirschorn, artistic director of the Melting Pot Theater Company which is producing the Spacey-sanctioned “Cobb,” admits the star pumped in some much-needed cash. “He saw it, wrote us a check and extended our show,” said Hirschorn, who claimed he was unaware of the GreenLight snub. “[Spacey] is going to be one of the producers when we continue the play. We’re looking at theaters and raising money for the right theater. We’re looking at everything, Broadway and Off-Broadway.” Spacey’s spokesperson declined to comment. Staffers at the Dramatists Play Service did not return calls.
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