Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company’s production of 12:52 The Mike Webster Story premieres as part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Friday, before moving into the company’s Hill District home.
The two-hour play about the late Steelers Hall of Fame center can be seen at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., Friday, June 2, through June 11. All performances are free and open to the public as part of the festival, with no tickets or reservations required. Audience will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Details at https://traf.trustarts.org/events/5564
The production moves on to the Madison Arts Center on weekends, starting Friday, June 16, through June 25.
12:52 The Mike Webster Story, by Dr. Randall Benson and Ross Howard and directed by Marcus Muzopappa, was produced in 2021 by the Iron Horse Theatre of Ambridge.
Howard is an award-winning British playwright, whose plays have been seen across the UK, Ireland and the United States. Dr. Benson is behavioral neurologist and imaging neuroscientist who is recognized for pioneering effective treatments for brain disorders and who testified before Congress on an NFL-sponsored study on concussions.
Ernesto Sanchez portrays Webster for Pittsburgh Playwrights. The cast also includes Kauleen Cloutier (as Pam Webster and nurse), Wali Jamal (as Dr. Bennet Omalu and Myron Cope), Paul Guggenheimer (as Terry Bradshaw and Dimestore Jesus), Arjun Kumar (as Sonny Jani), Jerry Wienand (as Bob Fitzsimmons), Charles “Stoney” Richards (as Dan Rooney) and Andrew Lasswell (Joe Gordon and doctor/orderly).
“Iron Mike” Webster anchored the Steelers’ offensive line during much of their run of four Super Bowl victories from 1974 to 1979, protecting and clearing the way for QB Terry Bradshaw, running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier and others. Among the greatest centers in National Football League history, Webster died in 2002, at age 50, as the first NFL player to receive a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE – a degenerative brain disease is linked to repeated hits to the head.
The drama takes place after Webster’s football career ends, offering a glimpse into Webster’s hardships due to his undiagnosed disease. The plot centers on the friendship he forms with Sonny Jani, his lasting relationship with Terry Bradshaw, and the heartbreak of his marriage and family suffering due to his condition.
The play also sheds light on Webster’s struggle to bring justice for himself, his family and other players who have suffered from head injuries due to playing football.
TICKETS AND DETAILS
At Madison Arts Center, 3401 Milwaukee St., Hill District. Tickets are $30, $27 for seniors/students, and $35 for all at the door. https://www.pghplaywrights.org/webster-tickets/