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Bronx Bombers Is a Wax Museum Dedicated to Diamond Greats

James Leynse

If the effigies of famous Yankees sluggers at Madame Tussaud's aren't lifelike enough for you, cross 42nd Street to watch Eric Simonson's Bronx Bombers, a veritable walking-talking wax museum of baseball greats—with about as much psychological complexity. All the biggies are here: Yogi, the Babe, Joltin' Joe, Elston Howard, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter (maybe A-Rod's invitation got lost in the mail). What's missing is a compelling reason to gather them (and us) together, beyond misty-eyed reminiscing about ballpark glory days.

The first act of this Primary Stages production begins promisingly, throwing us into the middle of the notorious 1970s Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin feud. The lovable Yogi—whose double negatives always make a humorous positive—convenes a hush-hush hotel room summit. But it's a furious stalemate: Neither the showboating star or the fire-breathing manager will give.

After this setup, it's a real letdown when the second act turns out to be dominated by a bizarre fantasy-baseball banquet where the Yankee legends from different decades wax elegiac, eliciting grunts of recognition from savvy spectators. The play's pent-up conflicts—team versus individual celebrity, tradition versus innovation, entertainment versus sport—evaporate. We're left with a feel-good myth that's supposed to eclipse all the greed, ego, and dirty deals. Tell that to A-Rod.


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