While the globe gets ever more swept up in World Cup mania, we at TheaterMania wondered why this "beautiful game" has not yet been the subject of a Broadway show. (Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Boys in the Photograph doesn't count as it's never made it to New York.) While Broadway has taken on the worlds of football (as opposed to fútbol) in Lombardi and baseball in Bronx Bombers, soccer has yet to take the field.
With that in mind, we compiled a list of seven of our favorite (handsome, muscular, tattooed) soccer players from 2014's World Cup in Brazil. We feel that their characters have excellent dramatic potential. We also made casting recommendations for any intrepid producers looking to take on this soccer extravaganza. Suggested titles: World Cup: The Musical!; FIFA: The Musical!; Sexy Footballers: The Musical!
Unlike the two previous sports shows, we strongly believe that this should really be a musical: an all-singing, all-running, all-kicking tuner (perhaps with a score composed entirely for an orchestra of vuvuzelas). We have cast the show thusly:
Jeremy Jordan as Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
No soccer musical would be complete without Cristiano Ronaldo. This Portuguese forward is widely regarded as one of the best players in the game, having scored over 400 career goals. With his own line of underwear (for which he exclusively models), he is also regularly included in lists of the sexiest men in the world. "People are envious of me because I'm rich, handsome, and a great player," he once told Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS. We feel that Newsies star Jeremy Jordan would best capture Ronaldo's volatile mix of looks, talent, and ego. Considering Ronaldo's assist of the victory-stealing goal in the game against Team USA, he may just emerge the villain of the show: a plum role!
Chris O'Dowd as Tim Howard (USA)
Bushy of beard and tall as a goal post (well, not quite), the 6-foot-3 Chris O'Dowd, who made his Broadway debut this season in Of Mice and Men, can easily fill the cleats of the U.S. team's goalie, Tim Howard. But the 2014 Tony nominee will have to stop petting puppies for a while and learn how to keep from crushing a soccer ball.
Cheyenne Jackson as Gerard Piqué (Spain)
With his piercing blue eyes and newly acquired scruff, Cheyenne Jackson is the ideal choice to play the handsome defender who helped lead Team Spain to victory four years ago. (Unbelievably, Spain was knocked out of contention this year after just two games.) Gerard Piqué's long-term girlfriend is Colombian pop superstar Shakira. They met during the filming of Shakira's music video for the 2010 World Cup song, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)," a scene that is surely worthy of its own production number (complete with dance break) in our hypothetical musical — one in which Jackson would undoubtedly soar.
Hugh Jackman as Essaïd Belkalem (Algeria)
Defender Essaïd Belkalem has a Wolverine-like attack when he's on the field, so who better to play the swarthy Algerian than Hugh Jackman, who will be making his Broadway return this fall in The River. But Wolverine's adamantium talons won't do him any good in our new musical: In soccer you can't use your hands!
Christopher Jackson as Givanildo Vieira de Souza, or "Hulk" (Brazil)
After originating the role of Derek Jeter in Bronx Bombers, Christopher Jackson (Holler If Ya Hear Me) is already a veteran of the sport-on-Broadway genre. He's also a dead-ringer for Brazilian forward Givanildo Vieira de Souza (aka Hulk). 2014 is Hulk's first World Cup, and while he participated in Team Brazil's victories over Croatia and Cameroon, phantom leg pains prevented him from competing against Mexico (a game that resulted in a 0-0 draw for both teams). We're envisioning Jackson in an Achilles heel-themed dream ballet for the second act.
Ramin Karimloo as Ezequiel "el Pocho" Lavezzi (Argentina)
Tattoos are a popular accessory with soccer players, and Ezequiel "el Pocho" Lavezzi has them all over, including his chest. That's why we're inking Ramin Karimloo to play the sexy Argentine forward. Karimloo can keep his Jean Valjean torso artwork from Les Misérables intact, but he'll have to change his number from 24601 to 22.
Adam Jacobs as Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
In a career-changing move, Aladdin's Adam Jacobs (who has also played Simba in The Lion King) should shed his clean-cut image to play tattooed Dutch bad-boy forward Memphis Depay. "Disciplinary problems plagued the early part of his career," his official FIFA bio cryptically notes. At only 20 years old, Depay is certainly the youngest player on our list, but don't underestimate him. He's already scored twice in Brazil: once against Chile and the also the match-winning goal in a nail-biter against Australia. Both times he entered the game as a substitute. His is a real Cinderella story (if Cindy had a full sleeve of ink), perfect for a two-time Disney prince like Jacobs.