The husband and I finally had an opportunity to celebrate our anniversary today with lunch and a trip downtown to see a performance of “Ernie.” The play tells the story of Ernie Harwell’s life, and I have to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit.
During his lifetime, the late Detroit Tigers baseball announcer was an institution in the city. As an announcer, he was immensely popular. Much of that was due in part to his ability to impact the lives of so many metro-Detroiters during his lifetime.
The play begins as Harwell is preparing to give a farewell speech at Comerica Park. At 91 years old, Harwell has learned that he has terminal cancer and has decided that he will not fight the cancer. During a rainstorm, Harwell runs into a child in a hallway. As the two begin chatting, the child convinces Harwell to share his life story in innings — beginning with his childhood in Georgia and traveling through WWII, his marriage, and his career as a broadcaster.
The play was written by Mitch Albom, and it definitely feels like an Albom story. In some ways, it falls in line with some of his other supernatural stories, including “The Five People You Meet In Heaven.” Whether you like that distinctly Albom feel probably has a lot to do with whether you are a fan of Albom or not. I am not the biggest +Albom fan, but I managed to enjoy the play quite a bit anyway.
Part of that was because Will David Young — the actor who portrayed Harwell — was fantastic. He did such an awesome job of capturing Ernie as a character and as a person. The Harwell that so many metro-Detroiters knew and loved really shined through in Young’s performance. Harwell was known to be a caring and generous man who loved God and loved his wife, and that was beyond obvious in Young’s performance.
After watching the play, I was left feeling that Harwell had an amazing life — one filled with both high points and low. The low points were included in the play, making the play that much better. The low points helped to remind the viewers that Harwell was a real man, complete with flaws and imperfections. In addition, the low points served make the high points that much more powerful while hammering home the message of the play.
In all, I loved the performance and would recommend it to anyone in the +Detroit area.