Thursday, April 28, 2011
"Ernie" by Mitch Albom (A review with a personal touch)
Anyone who knows me knows that I admire Mitch Albom. He is one of the reasons I completely changed the scope of my life and decided to go to journalism school. I had been wasting my time going to business school just for the heck of going to college. I have always been creative and I have always loved to write. But, one day after reading one of Mr. Albom's stories in FREEP (Detroit Free Press), it changed the course of my education and life and I knew that I wanted to be a writer.
He isn't just a journalist. He is an author. He is a playwright. He is the epitome of what being a writer is for me. It's someone who can write anything and that is what I aspire to become. Well, last night I met Mr. Albom (I will post a picture of that moment soon) and it was everything I dreamed it would be. He was kind and patient- even when my sweet nervous friend could barely hold the camera and take a straight picture as she knew how big of a moment that was for me. Last night was also my birthday and if yesterday is a forecast as to what the rest of the year will be like, WOW! Thank you Mr. Albom for taking that photo and shaking my hand. Thank you for writing "Ernie." Here's my review...
Much like "Motown" or General Motors, Ernie Harwell is an iconic institution here in the city of Detroit. Whether you are a fan of baseball or not, when you walked away from Mitch Albom's thoughtfully written piece, "Ernie", in dedication to Harwell you knew exactly why.
Mr. Albom and Harwell had been long-time friends of 25 years and had often spoke about penning a project based on "the voice of the Tigers." However, when Mr. Harwell became ill the project was postponed.
Albom says, "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 real-life video of Harwell at the beginning of the show begins the nostalgia as the cleverly staged lighting illuminates the audience. It is as if you are really sitting inside of a stadium waiting for the legend to start making his calls.
The brilliance of the show is how Albom incorporated every aspect of Harwell's life including the beautiful love story between he and his beloved Lula Harwell.
It's a two-member cast with Will Young gracefully portraying Harwell and TJ Corbett's infectious energy and consistency as "Boy."
"Ernie" played like a book. It took us from Harwell's childhood home in Atlanta, where he heard his first baseball broadcast, to Jackie Robinson receiving death threats from the KKK for playing in "their town" all the way to the broadcaster's monumental last speech at Comerica Park.
The love and adoration that Mr. Harwell gave to each of his radio broadcasts are the same qualities in which Albom wrote this play.
Harwell was a humble man. He quotes the book of Matthew in the show-"For whoever exhaults himself will be humbled and whoever is humble will be exhaulted." His humility is one of the qualities that made him extraordinary.
"Can you say goodbye to a treasure...you do it with a lump in your throat," Harwell once said during his last broadcast at Tiger Stadium. The same sentiment resonates for us with you Mr. Harwell. You are missed.
Performances are April 28 thru June 26. Tickets for Ernie are $20 and $25. For more information or to purchase tickets online visit OlympiaEntertainment.com, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices or call 800.745.3000.