Broadway Producers Give Back to South County
'Lombardi' producers Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser wanted to give back to the community.
In a brief ceremony Tuesday on the steps of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Ponturo and Kirmser (producers of Broadway-bound "Lombardi" previewing at the Mahaiwe through July 28) lauded the efforts of small communities and the stressed the need to give back.
"Theater is a community event," Kirmser said. "You need to go out and around in the community that supported you and give back. This is a remarkable community."
The donation comes at a time when many not-for-profit organizations, especially public schools, are experiencing ever-shrinking budgets, especially in areas such as music and sports, often considered extras. The $6,000 will be used to fund much-needed equipment for the weight room and music lab at Monument Mountain Regional High School while the $1,000 will be an added bonus to the youth football program that now sponsors 26 teams and more than 700 players ages 6 to 14.
"This is a great surprise," said Assistant Principal Scott Annand, himself a former football coach. "Everything's been tight, especially last year. We've had to resort to collecting user fees. We've got a new high school coach coming in and we're trying to rebuild the football program. To have an opportunity like this is a win-win situation."
A win-win is exactly what Todd Tinker, the high school's new football coach, is looking for. He is already geared up for a season of improvement and growth.
"I'm putting more energy into coaching than I am into my own life right now," he said. "I was watching the show ['Lombardi'] the other night and I turned to my wife, Sandy, and said, 'see honey, it's not just me.'"
Not indeed. The show, which was written by Eric Simonson and based on the biography "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi" by David Maraniss, chronicles Lombardi's career as head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s. Its lesson is simple, at least to Annand and other local football junkies.
"I look at the young people who participate in football or in all sports really. They are leaders in the school," he said. "Back in the 1990s, Friday night at Monument was the place to be. There's just something about it. We want to bring some of that back."
The Berkshire Youth Football Association promises to do just that. With more than 750 participants and counting, the association has become a feeder program for the high school team. Annand said they want to continue to support this kind of participation among younger players.
"Todd wants to make that connection earlier," he said. "With the younger kids. They come in freshmen year and they know how to play football."
Principal Maryanne Young expressed her gratitude to the producers for providing opportunities to the students in spite of tougher times ahead.
"Our school district really struggled with the financial budget," she said. "This is really a blessing."
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