Beau Bridges stars as John Wooden at Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights festival
Special to the Aspen Times
IF YOU GO …
What: ‘Coach: An Evening With John Wooden’
Where: Hurst Theatre, Rio Grande Park
When: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m. & Saturday, Sept. 21, 4 p.m.
How much: $50-$72
More info: The one-man show opens Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights festival, with features four new one-person plays and runs through Saturday.
What: Beau Bridges, in conversation with Jed Bernstein
Where: Pitkin County Library
When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 5:45 p.m.
How much: Free
Despite an acting career spanning more than six decades onstage and screen, Beau Bridges has never performed a one-man play until now.
The actor stars in “Coach: An Evening with John Wooden,” which opens Wednesday night at Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights festival and also marks his Aspen debut.
“I’m looking forward to ‘Coach’ because the man in the title, John Wooden was my freshman basketball coach at UCLA and he is a lifelong friend and mentor,” Bridges said in an e-mail interview. “I hope the audience leaves with a better understanding of what an amazing man Coach Wooden was and how they can apply his teachings toward their own lives in a positive way.”
The show shines a light on the legendary basketball coach, who led UCLA from 1948 to 1975. In a 12-year period in which he was head coach, he won 10 NCAA national championships, including a record seven in a row.
Wooden died in 2010 at age 99. Throughout his lifetime and especially since his passing, Wooden has been recognized for his inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success” and inspirational maxims like “Make each day a masterpiece.”
“Coach Wooden inspired a generation to live a life free of stress by just trying to be the best they can be,” Bridges said. “Not trying to be better than the next person. He said that success had nothing to do with winning. It has to do with finding peace of mind by leaving the task, knowing that you have done your very best.”
From humble beginnings to the pinnacle, “Coach” lays out Wooden’s life — showing his relationship with his wife of 53 years, the only girl he ever loved, and the journey they took together from a small town in Indiana to Los Angeles.
Director Joe Calarco and playwright John Wilder will be working alongside Bridges throughout the play’s development.
“I have not worked with John or Joe before but I have the utmost respect for them both and I look forward to working with them on this project in progress,” Bridges said.
Bridges’ career has spanned Broadway, television and film. Nominated for 15 total Emmy Awards, he has won three of them — including for his work in HBO’s “The Second Civil War” in 1997 and for his supporting role opposite Holly Hunter in the 1993 HBO movie “The Positively True Adventures of The Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
The son of Hollywood legend Lloyd Bridges and brother of Jeff Bridges, one of his favorite projects was a family affair.
“A film I really enjoyed working on was ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys,’” he said of the 1989 film he co-starred in with his brother. “I liked the way the film turned out and it was great fun working with my brother Jeff.”
When offering advice to an aspiring actor, Bridges encourages them to “get out and do it.”
“Perform anywhere you can,” Bridges said. “I did a lot of street theater back in the day — hospitals, prisons, market parking lots. There are a number of great community theaters around to get involved with. Get proactive, write your own project and film it on your phone for a start. If Steven Soderbergh can do it, so can you!”