EAST LANSING — Following a sell out engagement last August, Wharton Center announces the return of “Ernie – The Play” to kick off the 2016-2017 season. “The Play” is the smash hit play about the “Voice of Summer,” Ernie Harwell, and recounts the life of the beloved Tigers announcer. Tickets are available at Wharton Center’s official ticketing outlets: online at whartoncenter.com, at the Auto Owners Insurance Ticket Office at Wharton Center, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.
“The Play” is set on Ernie Harwell’s last night at Comerica Park, as 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 Hartwell’s passing, Albom picked up the pen again, and the result has thrilled over 80,000 theater goers over the past four summers.
“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 features actual footage from historic baseball moments, supplied courtesy of Major League Baseball, and boasts many unmistakable Harwell calls. Tigers 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. The East Lansing engagement of “Ernie – The Play” is sponsored by Capital Region Community Foundation; The Christman Company Plante Moran, PLLC; and Marketing Resource Group.
The play runs Wednesday, Aug. 24-Saturday, Aug. 27. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. for a Saturday matinee. Tickets start at $15 for student, $32 for general admission; a $70 special VIP meet and greet with Mitch Albom package is available. The Pasant Theatre at the Wharton Center is located in East Lansing. For more information, visit http://www.whartoncenter.com.