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September 15, 2016

Play about former Mayor Frank Rizzo returns to stage

The production that centers around Rizzo, who Donald Trump has been compared to, is showing weeks ahead of the election

Theater Frank RIzzo
Rizzo the play Image courtesy of Theater Exile/for PhillyVoice

Scott Greer, portraying Frank Rizzo in 'Rizzo,' poses outside City Hall.

Outspoken former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo returns to life with the revival of a play that premieres at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre next Friday.

The production is called "Rizzo," written by playwright Bruce Graham, and is based on Rizzo's biography called, "Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America" by Sal Paolantonio.

  • The Philadelphia Theatre Company presents Theatre Exile's production, which saw the stage for the first time last fall, from Sept. 23 until Oct. 16.

    Graham told CBS3 that though Rizzo was known for being larger-than-life, he hopes the production won't turn political.

    "We didn't want to make him a bad guy or a good guy," Graham told the station. "The fascinating thing about him is that there's no gray area. You either love Rizzo or you hate him."

    Though there's no predicting how audiences will react, the play is showing during prime campaigning time for presidential candidate Donald Trump – someone who is often compared to Rizzo for his bluntness and crudeness.

    Rizzo once said that he would "make Attila the Hun look like a f-----" during a re-election bid while Trump said he would "bomb the s--- out of ISIS" according to Philadelphia Magazine's well-circulated article, "Donald Trump Is Frank Rizzo, Reborn" published in January. 

    In fact – PhillyVoice published a quiz called "Who said it: Donald Trump or Frank Rizzo" right after the premiere of the play last year. 

    It's not known if the comparison and the play's timing will stir any controversy, but one audience member at a May 2014 reading of the script was enraged at the playwright for portraying Rizzo in too positive of a light. 

    “Graham threatened to take him out in the parking lot,” Scott Greer who portrays Rizzo in the production told PhillyMag. “That’s how the discussion started.”

    Tickets, which range anywhere from $15-$70, can be purchased here