PRLog - Dec. 11, 2011 - With excitement brewing about Magic/Bird on Broadway and the recent casting of Tug Coker as Larry Bird, the search continues for Earvin "Magic" Johnson and there is more than adequate reason for this. Based on the casting of Coker (whose credits include guest starring roles in a handful of shows such as "The Office" and "Deadwood" along with off-Broadway and regional theater credits) it would be more than logical to cast Magic with an actor with a similar resume. Yet, this may be tougher than expected as Magic, like Muhammad Ali and even Lombardi, is a larger than life figure. Then, of course, there are the height, age and resemblance considerations (though Coker doesn't look much like Bird).
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Much like Hollywood movies, Broadway is in the business of names to help sell tickets. The high cost of Broadway tickets almost warrants it. Yet, Magic/Bird is in a catch-22 situation. Just the names Magic and Bird should be enough to garner significant attendance, particularly among sports enthusiasts and those in the sports world. This should be further aided by the backing of the NBA. On the other hand, both Magic and Bird are alive, very visible and have characters that are embedded in the conscience of a significant portion of the universe. Thus, miscasting either of these icons, even with the right names, can be catastrophic for the production.
On the other hand, casting a Magic that looks, sounds and acts like him maybe critical to this production with Bird already cast. Leonard Dozier, a 6'4 actor and former basketball player, would be quite convincing as Magic. While his name wouldn't have theatergoers rushing to the box-office, the word of mouth about his performance would. Besides, those not interested in sports or Magic and Bird aren't going regardless.
In looking at the 32 year-old Dozier (who has essentially mounted his own campaign to play Magic) he grew up a huge Magic Johnson fan to the point that people back in his hometown of Pleasantville, NJ still call him Magic because he was a popular basketball player who played a lot like Magic. Leonard was so good that he ended up getting varsity basketball playing time as freshman. The next year he started at power forward for the bulk of the early season (for which he states is so very comparable to Magic because I was a point guard who ended up playing all five positions during my time as a player) before leaving to pursue theater. By senior year, his head coach was convinced he needed Leonard's leadership and basketball IQ on the floor (even though Leonard sat out his entire junior year) A few colleges, most notably St Bonaventures expressed some interest in Leonard his senior year but he went on, instead, to study theater at Fordham University.
Recently, Leonard had a principal role in the new Hollywood/Nollywood film "Turning Point" with Ernie Hudson, Todd Bridges, Joe Estevez and K.D. Aubert. He also starred as AME Church founder Richard Allen in the first landmark documentary about his life. The premiere was sponsored by NY Jets All-Pro Tackle D' Brickashaw Ferguson and was seen by more than 3 million people worldwide. On stage, Leonard's work includes starring roles in a number of regional theater productions such A Raisin in the Sun and The Piano Lesson. He also has a starring role in a regional production led by Broadway notables Gabe Barre and Paul Bogaev. Yet, Leonard admits "I haven't taken the route to make my career go in a certain direction. I haven't said I need to go here or there or do this or that. I just allow my faith in God to direct me. For someone who wanted to be a basketball player, I never dreamed of being an actor so I already have exceeded my expectations. I have always maintained that I will just keep handling the means and let God worry about the end."
Check out footage of Leonard portraying Magic in this video
See the extended version at