‘Honus and Me’ starts Friday
CHARLES TOWN — Starting Friday, baseball fans and theater lovers alike can come to the Old Opera House Theatre here to catch a timely baseball-oriented play, “Honus and Me.” Five additional performances are scheduled through May 5.
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Written by playwright Steven Dietz, “Honus and Me” is a family-friendly story that focuses on 10-year-old Little League player Joey Stoshack and his unexpected encounter with deadball-era legend Honus Wagner.
Wagner, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1917, is regarded as the sports’ greatest shortstop ever. One of the first five players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the Pittsburgh native died at 81 in 1955.
Young Joey is “kind of down on his luck as a player,” explains Steven Brewer, managing/artistic director for the OOH. “We catch him in the show getting the last out in the final inning a couple of times and he has some additional issues, including the fact that his parents are separated.”
Then, while cleaning out a neighbor’s attic, the boy stumbles across a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card “– the most valuable in history,” Brewer says. “He finds this baseball card and feels that a lot of the problems he has in life will be solved.”
It’s a card that’s been in the news recently. Earlier this month, a T206 Honus Wagner sold for $2.1 million in an online auction, a record for the most paid for a baseball card in a public sale.
What makes the Wagner card so valuable? The American Tobacco Co. distributed perhaps as few as 60 of the cards between 1909 and 1911, stopping at Wagner’s insistence. Some say he wanted a better compensation deal from the company; others say his refusal stemmed from a desire not to entice youngsters into buying cigarettes in order to get his image.
The cast for the OOH’s production of “Honus and Me” includes Zachary Little, Jennifer George, Homer Speaker, Martha Louden, Jack Brennan, John-Michael Rolnick, Robert Allen, Jeff Marcum, Ed Conn, Nichole Kay Turner and Bruce Olson.
The central action in “Honus and Me” happens when, through what Brewer calls “theatrical magic,” Joey comes face to face with Wagner, who takes him on a trip back to the 1909 World Series.
“There he kind of learns that there are more important things to life than money,” Brewer says. “This show is about making decisions, and hopefully the right ones. We often come up against moments in our lives when we all must make difficult choices, and for 10-year-old Joey Stoshack, he looks to Honus Wagner, one of his heroes, for some guidance.”
Brewer says the play’s message centers on “keeping your chin up, moving forward, not letting things get you down, that we all have something special inside us to be able to give and share with the world, and we just need to find out what that is.
“I think it’s a great evening that you can share with your kids,” he adds. “And I think adults are going to like it, too.”
Tickets for adults cost $19 for evening performances and $17 for Sunday matinees; children and student tickets cost $10. Reserved seating is available. The play continues with three more performances next weekend.
The OOH is located at 204 N. George St. To purchase tickets or get more information, call the box office at 304-725-4420.
The production, which is being presented by American Public University System, lasts just under two hours. The Old Opera House Theatre Guild will sell refreshments during intermission.