Friends, I am happy to let this news out. Ernie Harwell was as dear a man as ever lived. It’ll be an honor to bring his life to the stage. I hope to create a moving and magical night at the theater, one that will let even neutral spectators fall in love with the national pastime and one of the great voices of the game. Here’s the press release details:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW STAGE PLAY ON ERNIE HARWELL
TO OPEN IN DETROIT IN 2011,
WRITTEN BY BEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT
Detroit — In Ernie Harwell’s final year, the famed broadcaster had several conversations with bestselling author Mitch Albom about doing a theatrical play based on Harwell’s life. Although Harwell died before the work could be completed, the idea will finally blossom and reach the stage next March. Just in time for the new baseball season, Detroit’s City Theatre will host the world premiere of “Ernie” – Albom’s brand new play based on the life of the legendary voice of baseball.
“Ernie’s story transcends sports,” Albom says. “It is a story of 20th century Americana, a tough upbringing through the Depression, a true love that lasted 70 years, a World War, a fascinating career, and of course, behind it all, baseball. Ernie is a rich and wonderful subject for the stage.”
While working on the play this summer, Albom thought about the City Theatre, where he had staged previous work (including the hit play “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.”) Albom was intrigued with its proximity to Comerica Park – just across the street – where Harwell spent the last years of his career. “The idea that people could see a play about a baseball icon, then walk across the street and see actual games on the same field where he called them – well, it just seemed fitting to Ernie’s story,” Albom said.
Albom knew Harwell for 25 years, and wrote regularly in the Detroit Free Press about the man’s unique hold on those who listened to him. The theatrical play (at the moment, being written as a two-man show) will chronicle Harwell’s life and times, and capture much of the homespun wisdom for which the Hall of Fame broadcaster became famous. It will also incorporate sound and footage from Harwell’s 60-plus year career in baseball.
Casting for the show – including the actor who will play Harwell – will begin in November.
“Ernie and I had talked about a play for many years, and had always hoped Mitch might find the time to author it,” said S. Gary Spicer, Harwell’s longtime friend and attorney. “And a venue near the ballpark is ideal. Ernie would be very happy that this is finally becoming a reality.”
A portion of all proceeds from the show will benefit charities that Harwell championed. The play will be independently produced. “Although we will audition the role of Ernie on a national basis, my hope is to use as many Michigan people as possible, from actors to director to stagehands,” Albom said. “We have wonderful creative talent right here in our back yard.”
Interested parties, for now, can send inquiries to Ernietheplay@gmail.com
Plans call for the show to open with previews in late March 2011 – with a premiere closely tied to Opening Day in Detroit which is scheduled for April 8, 2011. On Tiger game nights, the show may offer early performances that allow the theatergoer to see the play and still make the first pitch.
Albom, best known for his international best-sellers like “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” (both adapted into award-winning TV films) has also penned several highly successful plays. He authored the theatrical version of “Tuesdays With Morrie” (with Jeffrey Hatcher) that opened off-Broadway in 2001 and has since seen more than 100 productions across the U.S. and around the world, including Japan, Switzerland, Israel, Australia and China. Albom also wrote two comedies “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” and “And The Winner Is”, which both debuted at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea and rank as the highest grossing shows ever produced there. Both plays have had numerous national productions.
One of Detroit’s theater gems, the intimate City Theatre is located in the heart of Foxtown inside the Hockeytown Cafe building, next to the fabulous Fox Theatre and across the street from Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. This 430-seat theater has the unique atmosphere of an off-Broadway house, right in the heart of the Motor City, and hosts concerts, plays, comedy shows and more.