“ERNIE” – WRITTEN BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR MITCH ALBOM –
TO PAY THEATRICAL TRIBUTE TO
DETROIT’S OWN ERNIE HARWELL
New Stage Play, Opening Late April, Tells Story of Beloved Hall of Fame Broadcaster
“Looong gone”, but never forgotten.
“Ernie,” Mitch Albom’s much-anticipated new play dedicated to Ernie Harwell, makes its world premiere this spring at the City Theatre in Detroit, one block from Comerica Park and just in time for fans to visit with the “Voice of Summer” once again.
“Ernie” is set on Ernie Harwell’s last night at Comerica, when the Hall of Fame broadcaster is about to give a moving thank you to a grateful city. Just before he walks onto the grassy field, he encounters an unusual boy who is eager to know all about him, coaxing Harwell into giving one final broadcast – the “broadcast of his life.”
In real life, Harwell and Albom spoke often about doing a stage play one day. According to Harwell’s longtime friend and attorney, S. Gary Spicer, Ernie “had always hoped Mitch would author it”. Having called Harwell a friend for 25 years, Albom, the hugely successful playwright behind “Tuesdays With Morrie”, was willing to collaborate, but in 2009 Harwell’s health faded and the project had to be shelved.
After Ernie’s passing, Albom picked up the pen again, and the result will finally reach audiences on Thursday night, April 28th, 2011.
“Ernie’s story transcends sports,” Albom says. “It’s a story of 20th century Americana and a love affair with baseball and a childhood sweetheart. Ernie went through the Depression, World War II, the segregation of sports –he also called some of the grandest moments ever witnessed on a ball field. It’s an honor to bring such a rich character to the stage – especially for so many fans who loved him.”
The play will feature actual footage from historic baseball moments, supplied courtesy of Major League Baseball, and will boast many unmistakable Harwell calls. Tiger fans will get a glimpse of the time that Ernie met the Great Bambino and Ty Cobb. They’ll witness how he “recreated” games in his early days, and what was behind his broadcasts of the Tigers’ 1968 and 1984 World Series.
One of Detroit’s true theatre gems, the City Theatre is located inside the Hockeytown Café building, next door to the fabulous Fox Theatre and across the street from Comerica Park. This intimate venue has the unique atmosphere of an off-Broadway style space where theatergoers can truly enjoy a visit with Ernie Harwell.
“We are pleased that “Ernie” will premiere at the City Theatre” said Michael Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Chairman of Ilitch holdings, Inc., which owns the theatre. Ernie meant so much, to so many, and he is synonymous with baseball, the Detroit Tigers and the state of Michigan. We know Mitch’s play will be a wonderful tribute.”
Albom’s vision for the play was to make it in Michigan, stage it in Michigan, and create it with Michiganders – people who understood the uniqueness of Harwell’s bond with the public. After extensive auditions and interviews, a top-tier cast and crew was assembled, including:
-Award winning director Tony Caselli, who will helm the project.
-Longtime Detroit area stage favorite Will Young, who will create the role of Ernie.
-Exciting newcomer TJ Corbett, who will give birth to the role of “Boy.”
As important as the Michigan casting was to the project, so too was the ability for all those who loved Ernie Harwell to see it. So Albom insisted that the play feature a basic $20.00 ticket price (a small number of premium-seating tickets will be available for $25) and convenient show times will make it easy to get to the Tigers game.
In addition, a portion of the proceeds from “Ernie” will go to several of his most-loved charities.
To take advantage of the “doubleheader” experience, customers can purchase their “Ernie” show tickets online at OlympiaEntertainment.com, Ticketmaster.com or the Fox Theatre Box Office. At that time, a redemption code will be given for use on Tigers.com or at the Comerica Park Box Office to receive a $5 savings on select seating at all regular season home games excluding Opening Day. Game tickets will only be available for pick-up at the Comerica Park Box Office and patrons must present their “Ernie” show ticket stub. Tickets for the “doubleheader” experience will go on sale Saturday, March 5; when regular individual Tigers game tickets are available.
“Ernie” show tickets ($20 and $25) go on sale Saturday, Feb. 19 at 10:00 a.m. and may be purchased online at OlympiaEntertainment.com, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge), at all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com and at the City Theatre box office, located inside Hockeytown Cafe. To charge tickets by phone, call 1-800-745-3000. For additional information, call (313) 471-6611.