Jewish World Review June 3, 2013/ 25 Sivan, 5773
The voice of Ernie is heard again
By Mitch Albom
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle
is heard in our land
And now, every spring,
"My wife says, 'Oh, no, there it goes,' " Young says, laughing.
And the transformation begins.
For the third year in a row, Young, a sprightly 73, will portray Harwell, the beloved Tigers broadcaster, in the play "Ernie," which re-opens this week at the
I was blessed to be able to write that play. I was more blessed to meet Young, who so thoroughly captures the voice, movement and heart of Harwell, that people leave the theater shaking their heads and saying, "If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was him."
The funny thing is, Young arrived in
But, Young notes, "I must be the only person in the state of
That's OK. He's gotten to know him in a way few people could.
In "Ernie," Young is asked by his fellow actor,
He also gets to detail the achingly beautiful love story between Ernie and Lulu, Ernie's wife of more than 65 years. One of Young's most nerve-wracking moments was when the real
So far, nearly 44,000 people have seen Young perform this role over three summers. Not bad for a man who gave up acting for nearly 30 years, working as an English and speech teacher in the
It was only after he retired from teaching that Young felt the acting bug again, and landed small roles in local productions. He once told himself, "If I could ever get to act once at (Chelsea's)
Now, this week, he will give his 150th straight leading role performance in "Ernie," taking a
Imagine the pressure of having to portray a local legend night after night. Many patrons hang around after the final curtain, just to tell Young about the time Ernie came to their church, or let them into the
And increasingly, people around town -- or at the local market in
How do you handle that? he is asked.
"Usually, I just say, 'Thank you.' "
The theater is rich with actors associated with one role.
And that's not because he sounds or looks the most like him. It's because Ernie's spirit of decency, humility and basic goodness is the same spirit that graces
Ernie was always encouraging to young guys in the business. So it seems right that one of his final legacies is giving a 73-year-old man a similar career boost. Spring is upon us, the voice of the turtle has been heard, and while Harwell has been gone three years, his spirit lives on in those who loved him -- and one special man who portrays him.
Especially once he loses the mustache.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
© 2013, THE DETROIT FREE PRESS DISTRIBUTED BY TMS, INC.