Salon Danae, formerly known as Nicolo's, is a full-service grooming emporium catering to both men and women in Solana Beach, Calif. For about 10 or 15 minutes last week, it was tougher than usual to get an appointment there.
Dick Enberg was using the phone.
Enberg, who is celebrating his 50th year as one of the top sportscasters in America, was scrambling around Southern California running errands in preparation for a trip to Paris, where he is broadcasting the French Open tennis tournament.
Just as Enberg was about to jump into a chair for a haircut, the salon's phone rang. Enberg answered with his instantly recognizable baritone. Although he had agreed to do a phone interview with OnMilwaukee.com about the second run of "McGuire," the one-man play he wrote to honor the memory of his late friend, broadcast partner and Marquette University icon Al McGuire, Enberg had a slight problem.
"It's a little loud in here," he said. "I'm going to step outside for a minute."
Asked if he would like to reschedule for another time, Enberg said "That's OK. I can always find time to talk about Al."
McGuire, who died of leukemia in 2001, was the inspiration for Enberg's first foray into theatrical writing. The 70-minute play, which stars actor veteran Cotter Smith, debuted to sellout crowds last year and returns to Helfaer Theatre June 1-11.
"I hope that we receive the same reaction we did last time," Enberg said. "Every performance was a standing ovation. Cotter Smith, who has been acting for 30 years, said it was one of the richest experiences he ever had in a performance. That's the ultimate compliment."
Enberg, who said he felt as though McGuire "was standing over my shoulder when I wrote the thing," hopes that the play can keep McGuire's memory alive for the people who knew him and introduce him to a new generation of people who didn't get to share the eccentric coach/broadcaster's unique view of life.
"It continues to be very exciting," Enberg said. "I hope this will be a continuing process. There is no reason the play shouldn't last for ever. Al was such a unique person. Obviously, he was one of the more special people I've met in my life.
"In my 50 years as a broadcaster, this play has given me more satisfaction than just about anything else that I've done. I've talked to a lot of people who knew Al and they said that going to the play was like being with him again. Cotter Smith does an incredible job."
Although McGuire was revered as Marquette's coach, his national recognition increased when he led the Warriors to the National Collegiate Athletic Association title in 1977 and ventured into the broadcast booth the following year. Although his wit, wisdom and basketball knowledge endeared him to viewers, McGuire was not the type of announcer whose sound bites would translate into today's video-game sensibility.
"It was tough to capture that in a play," Enberg said. "TV always kind of confused Al. He never took himself too seriously. In a way, (ESPN announcer) Dick Vitale does a lot of Al, only he shouts it louder. (Vitale) is a star and he acts like a star. Al never did."
While some current analysts consider themselves almost infallible, Enberg said that McGuire never lost the ability to laugh at his shortcomings.
"That reminds me of something I should have put in the play," he said. "Al and I were doing a game once and Billy (Packer, the third man in the booth) wasn't there. The producer was screaming something in our ears and Al said to me "Dicksie, I've come up with a new signal. Since Billy isn't here, there might be times when there is a new rule or something that I don't know the answer to. If I look at you and I rub my nose, that means I don't know."
"I told him "That's going to work really well. Every time I look at you, you'll be rubbing your nose. What if you get an itch?"
Tickets for "McGuire," can be purchased by calling the Helfaer Theatre Box Office at (414) 288-7504 or (414) 288-7505 or in person at the box office at 525 N. 13th St.
The box office is open Tuesday through Friday, 1 - 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 for Wednesday and Thursday performances; $25 for Friday through Sunday shows. "That's a pretty good deal," Enberg said. "We might have to see about raising the prices."
Performances are slated for the following dates:
Thursday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 4, at 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 11 at 2:30 p.m.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.