Last night I finally caught up with Bobby Cassidy Jr's wonderful little play "Kid Shamrock," based on the boxing career of his father Bobby Cassidy Sr., who was a light heavyweight contender in the 1970s. Staged at the TADA! Theater, an intimate space on W. 28th St., the play is both a tribute and a cautionary tale about "the Sweet Science." Cassidy Sr. was a Jake Lamotta style of fighter, a bruiser, who took a lot of punishment to get in tight and dole out punishment of his own. His career was cut somewhat short by what the play refers to as "the Irish disease" of alcoholism.
The novelty of the play is that acting in it are primarily ex-fighters and others who know the sport intimately. Retired fighters John Duddy and Seamus McDonagh play Cassidy Sr. at different stages of his life; the great former champion Mark Breland plays Cassidy's trainer; Wayne Kelly, a former fighter who is now a boxing referee plays a referee in the play; and "Kid Shamrock" is directed by Michael Bentt, former WBO world heavyweight champ. To top it all off, Cassidy Sr. himself opens and closes each act of the play by taking the stage to read from Rod Serling's classic "Requiem for a Heavyweight."
The play is timeless and heartfelt, with a scene-stealing performance by veteran character actor Patrick Connolly, and a walk-on by Vinnie Vella, the wiseguy actor who's face you will immediately recognize from "Casino," "Analyze This," and many other movies.
It was a great honor to spend time after the performance with the Cassidy's -- Bobby Jr., the playwright; Bobby Sr., the ex-fighter; and Chris Cassidy, a personal friend of mine who helped produce the play and is also a highly talented cameraman and photographer.
"Kid Shamrock" has been staged in NYC twice before for limited runs, and there is talk about trying to stage it again in Las Vegas or even in Dublin, where ex-fighters and native sons Duddy and McDonagh are renowned. If the play comes around again in NYC you don't want to miss it. If you admire boxing, it is a treat, and even if you don't, the play will capture your heart and imagination with its tale of dreams pursued, attained and lost, all of it staged and performed with great authenticity and sincerity.