Packers History Play Returns to Stage

The life and antics of Packer great Johnny Blood McNally come to the Ashwaubenon PAC in November.“The Vagabond Halfback" returns to the stage on November 3-5 at the brand new, state of the art Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center.

According to playwright and producer, Denis Gullickson, “'The Vagabond Halfback' is a story of life, love and Packers football set in the Roaring Twenties against the backdrop of the Great Depression."

The play centers on the on and off-field antics of Packers Hall of Famer Johnny Blood McNally and traces McNally and his Packers' teammates through the '29 season en route to the team's first NFL Championship.

Featured prominently are Packers coach Curly Lambeau and colorful Press-Gazette sportswriter, George “Cal" Calhoun as well as Packers Mike Michalske, Lavvie Dilweg, Cal Hubbard and Bo Molenda. National characters include NFL President Joe Carr and New York Giants owner Tim Mara.

Scenes involve many Green Bay landmarks including downtown streets, the Northland Hotel, East High School Old City Stadium and a Preble whorehouse.

Blood's antics were widely-celebrated in the nation's newspapers. Most included wine, women and poetry. For instance, Blood would rent out an entire house of ill repute such as the one in Preble and spend the night reciting poetry and discussing headlines.

Blood's football skills were also exceptional and he was one of the first 17 men inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Lambeau.

In the fictional character, Genevieve Frechette, Blood meets his match and their relationship grows and is tested over the course of the play.

Other features of the production include live football action on the theater stage for the first time anywhere and a black and white newsreel created for the production.

The play culminates in the Packers-Giants showdown at New York's famed Polo Grounds. Both teams were undefeated and the game constituted that year's championship contest since league titles were based on won-lost percentage.

The play debuted at Green Bay East High School last summer and is the first production by the Green Bay Theatre Company, a relatively-new theater troupe in the area.

“There's something here for everyone," said Gullickson. “Whether you like theater, sports, the Packers, local history, you name it. It's historically-accurate as well."

This is the Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center's inaugural season and the Green Bay Theatre Company is the only theater group included in its initial lineup. Acting talent in “The Vagabond Halfback" is from the Green Bay area under the direction of Barb Alloy.

Tickets for “The Vagabond Halfback" are available through Ticketstar at $23 adults and $16 seniors and students.

For tickets, click here.

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