Rudy Ruettiger will take the stage at The Smith Center on Saturday, April 25, starring in “Voices of Rudy: The Journey to the Movie (1993).” The multi-media production, which tells the inspiring story of how a one man’s name became synonymous with perseverance and triumph, will return to the Troesh Studio Theater for one night only. Tickets are now on sale.
Since its 1993 premiere, “Rudy” has become one of the most treasured and iconic films in history, and has been hailed by ESPN as one of the Best 25 Sports Movies Ever Made and included on AFI’s list of Most Inspiring Films of All Time. The iconic story of how a college underdog was able to persevere against obstacles to earn a coveted spot on the Notre Dame University football team has made a major impact on everyone from students to professional athletes to U.S. presidents.
In an interview I had with Rudy, the Notre Dame graduate (1974-76), who stayed on at the Indiana school as a coaches assistant for one year following graduation, told me how he eventually sat down with some people in Hollywood, and told them his story of the struggles to attend the famous school (it took four attempts,) the fortitude to make the football squad (he was on the practice squad,) and then to actually get in a game(the movie was about 92 percent accurate, and according to Joe Montana who was a member of the varsity team (1974-78), “he worked his butt off to get where he was…” But, the biggest struggle, however, was yet to come. He spent 10 years knocking on doors to find someone to listen to his story and possibly produce a movie.
“If it hadn’t been for a friend (hotel manager at Notre Dame) who had a brother, who was a fraternity brother at Indiana University, who just happened to have been involved with the guys who wrote and directed the movie, “Hoosiers.” He got in touch with his brother, told him briefly about my story, and the guy reached out to Angelo Pizzo (he wrote the movie “Hoosiers”), and made an appointment for me. I flew out to Hollywood, and went to the restaurant where we were to meet.”
Rudy waited and waited, and finally got up and walked out. Naturally he was really down. Then he saw a postman smiling and whistling, and asked him where he was from? He said Michigan. “I told him I was from Indiana, and eventually the conversation led to me telling him about my story, and that I was here to meet with Angelo Pizzo, who didn’t show up for the meeting. He seemed to like my story so he said to me, ‘come on I’ll show you where he lives.’ “
Rudy went to Angelo’s door and knocked and said, “You’re late for lunch.” Pizzo apologized and the two sat in his house and Rudy told him his story. He liked it and said he would see what he could do. Two years later, Frank Price, President of Columbia Studios, asked David Anspaugh (he directed Hoosiers in 1986) to find him a good sports movie. And the rest is now Hollywood lore.
“It was a million-to-one shot when I knocked on his door and asked him for five minutes of his time,” Rudy said.
According to Ruettiger, after the deal was made to make the movie, they had to get permission from Notre Dame, which hadn’t approved of any movies being made on its campus since the Knute Rockne movie in 1940. “That was a huge obstacle, but we eventually received permission, and the rest is also history…”
Produced and directed by Tony Sacca, “Voices of Rudy: The Journey to the Movie,” invites audiences to join Ruettiger in his story, from humble childhood beginnings, to his experience at Notre Dame, to his quest to share his story with the masses. Narrated by Ruettiger, the production also features the talent of renowned comic impressionist Rich Natole, who lends a voice to both the supporters and naysayers he encountered on his journey.
“I am so excited to be a part of such an inspirational project,” said Sacca. “Rudy has touched the world with his movie and now he will again touch, inspire, and entertain people with his one-man play.”
“Voices of Rudy: The Journey to the Movie” can be seen at the Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith. Tickets are priced from $34 to $39. For additional information, visit www.thesmithcenter.com or call 702-749-2000.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
As promised last week, I want to tell you about a friend who just happens to be a wonderful entertainer, Kelly Clinton-Holmes. Went to Ron DeCar’s Event Center, 1201 Las Vegas Blvd. South, a couple of weeks ago to catch her new show. I hadn’t seen her performing an entire show in over a year, and it was truly overdue. Well, gang, as I expected, the performance was fantastic. It had everything you want to see and hear in a Kelly Clinton presentation: funny skits, great music, and just down-to-earth fun which is her trademark!
Kelly kicks it off with, “No Tears,” followed with “Mr. Big Stuff.” She waste little time with chit-chat as she puckers up her lips and gets into Cher, by turning back time with the classic, “I Got You Babe,” and special guest, Dennis Blair, comes on stage as Sonny. A really funny skit and song by Blair, titled, “Auto Correct,” about a computer, etc., helps set the rest of the evening as the two, working at the top of their game, continue to create memorial moments in time: Blair doing Paul McCartney, Clinton playing the drums as Ringo, while they trades puns like: Paul asks Ringo when did he get to town, and Ringo answers with “I got here YESTERDAY, and then the two are off running. It’s definitely a highlight skit. One take away from the evening was the performance of young Jessica Vanek, who was terrific as she performed, “Suddenly in Walked Bud,” a jazz composition in 1947 by Thelonious Monk.
Kelly’s mother, who is at most of her daughter’s performances, is not left out of the show. Known as a smoker, her loving daughter does a tribute to her by making fun of her—as only a daughter can do. Kelly ends with “My Eyes Adored You.” Another touching moment in time was when guest, Lisa Gay sang “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Wow! And no Kelly Clinton-Holmes show would be complete without her doing the trumpet tribute to her mentor, Joe Joe Spaghetti Moretti. The final song was a beautiful rendition of “World on a String.” What a great evening. Just want to letcha all know the next time our little friend is performing do yourself a favor and get a ticket and enjoy a fun evening.
Just a quick note about my re-visit to the Palazzo Hotel to watch my buddy, Bob Anderson, who portrays another old friend, The Man, The Chairman of the Board, Francis Albert Sinatra. This was my second trip and I must say it’ll not be my last. I had the great privilege of knowing Mr. Sinatra, having met him the first time when I was with the former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis, when we were promoting fights in Los Angeles at the “Moulin Rouge” nightclub on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s (that’s a story for another time).
I sat there the other night remembering the nights I sat at the Sands, the Riviera, or Caesars Palace, watching my friend perform with a fantastic, huge orchestra. Those were magical moments in time too! The other night watching Anderson was another one. It only takes a few minutes for your mind to figure out that the man on that stage, with the great Vince Falcone (he was with Sinatra for more than 10 years) 32-piece orchestra, was not Bob Anderson. No, sir! It’s The Man! Here again I really want you to see this show. I do not usually say YOU HAVE TO GO, but this time I am! There is only one other place where this show belongs, and I truly believe it will get there one of these days, and that’s New York and Broadway. Oh, yeah, one of the greats of showbiz, Michael Feinstein was in the audience this particular evening. What a treat it was to meet this wonderful musician.
Well, gang, I got it all in this week.