Bleier finds a new way to share his story

Rocky Bleier loves sharing a good story, and there aren't many that can tell them like he does.

But like many of us, Bleier had his love of sharing stories in person curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He didn't let it fully stop him, though.

Bleier launched, 'The Play with Rocky Bleier,' several years ago, a one-man stage show featuring him telling his life's story. But when the stages shutdown last March, his show did as well.

But he is back, and the great part is, you can watch 'The Play with Rocky Bleier' right from the comfort of your own home as it's now available via Broadway on Demand to download or watch on a smart TV.

"How this all came about was because of the pandemic and ultimately the cancellation of performances we had around the country," said Bleier. "I got to thinking with the electronic background we have what kind of format is out there to be able to air this? I was thinking what if we did a live performance and stream it. How would people react. It was a good idea, but what happens if something breaks down in the live performance. We thought the best thing was to get it filmed. We started looking into the possibility of doing it not as a movie, but a theatrical production and bring it to air. Being a novice, I didn't know a lot about doing this. I made some calls and got some input."

Bleier and the crew from 'The Play' worked with the staff at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, Pa., and they made magic happen. Lincoln Park had everything they needed stage wise, availability because they weren't able to do performances with crowds because of the pandemic, and a relationship already with Broadway on Demand.

"That was the end result," said Bleier. "We did 'The Play' and filmed it at Lincoln Park. They had everything first rate, everything we needed to be able to do that. That is how it got to be.

"Now what we are trying to do, and I suppose from my point of view, is just let people enjoy it on Broadway on Demand where it's available to viewers. It's interesting to have sports fans possibly take a look at watching a theater production. It doesn't always mesh all of the time. But I think this does."

'The Play,' written by Gene Collier, focuses on Bleier's years with the Steelers as a four-time Super Bowl champion, as well as him returning from the Vietnam War as a wounded warrior, family man and someone who gives his time to the community. And the best part is, it's Bleier telling the story himself. But this time, it was more of a challenge. He is accustomed to doing it in front of a live audience, something he missed.

"With an audience there is a certain energy and reaction from them, certain timing that you have to be adaptable, people laugh, they don't laugh, you have to be able to react to situations," said Bleier. "Doing it, when it opens, the first part we are introducing the bar and there is no audience reaction so it's strange. It's different than the normal because there is no audience, and we couldn't do it in an audience and were weren't gong to dub an audience in.

"The feedback I have gotten, the reaction, people have liked it. That is wonderful."

The one advantage for Bleier is it's now able to reach a larger audience. 'The Play' has been featured in Pittsburgh, as well as taken on the road to a few locations such as Wisconsin and Indiana, but now it can reach all of Steelers Nation.

"That's our hope, to get a different audience," said Bleier. "When we performed it here in Pittsburgh it was Steelers fans who would come. People supported it and so on. Now it's getting the audience outside of Pittsburgh, Steelers fans who live all over the country. It's hitting a bigger reach.

"Hopefully we can reach some people who may not have ever had the opportunity to see it or know the story but would enjoy the production of 'The Play.'"

For more information, visit 'The Play with Rocky Bleier.'