CHARLES TOWN – Last week’s debut of “Honus and Me” at the Old Opera House Theatre proved a hit and the historic theater’s artistic director expects many more fans to turn out before the baseball-themed family-friendly play wraps up its run on Sunday.
[cleeng_content id="807040331" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]“Our patrons seemed to really enjoy this show,” said Steven Brewer, managing/artistic director for the OOH. “It is rich with nostalgia and our audience had the chance to travel back to the early 1900s and experience a slice of baseball history.”
Theater-goers have three more chances to see “Honus and Me” this weekend.
Written by playwright Steven Dietz, the play focuses on 10-year-old Little Leaguer 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 sport’s greatest shortstop ever. In 1936, he was one of the first five players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
While the star ballplayer’s name is in the title, the “and Me” is really what the play is about, explains Robert Allen, who portrays Wagner: “It revolves around Joey and his relationships.”
Joey is a huge baseball fan, but one who doesn’t perform too well under pressure. “This young boy is facing challenges a lot of young boys face,” Allen said. “His parents are divorced and he wants them back together, and he loves baseball, but things don’t always work out how we want them to.”
Then, while cleaning out the attic of a neighbor, Miss Young, Joey finds a T206 Honus Wagner card – one much like the card that sold last month for a record $2.1 million in an online auction.
The Wagner card is so sought after because the American Tobacco Co. distributed perhaps only 60 of them between 1909 and 1911 when Wagner insisted the company suspend production. (Some say he wanted a better financial deal from the company; others point to a higher rationale. In the play, Wagner says: “I told ‘em that kids shouldn’t be spendin’ money on tobacco just to get a picture of a ballplayer.”)
Allen says Joey faces a bit of a moral dilemma after finding the rare card. On one hand, Miss Young tells him he can keep anything he finds in the attic, but on the other hand, Joey knows how much the card is worth, and he admits that returning the card to Miss Young is the right thing to do.
Despite that, “he doesn’t want to tell his mom,” Allen says. “And he’s trying to hide where he got it from.”
Then, the play brings Joey comes face to face with Wagner, who “tells him there’s the easy thing to do and then there’s the right thing to do, and it’s up to you which one,” Allen says.
“During the magic of somehow bringing Honus through time, he’s a mentor to this boy,” Allen said. “A lot of it is building the kid’s confidence — a lot of that is done through baseball and batting tips — and also just being his friend.”
Besides Allen, the cast for “Honus and Me” includes Zachary Little as Joey, plus Jennifer George, Homer Speaker, Martha Louden, Jack Brennan, John-Michael Rolnick, Jeff Marcum, Ed Conn, Nichole Kay Turner and Bruce Olson.
Little is a high school student and has the bulk of the lines in the show. “He’s been doing a fantastic job,” Allen said. “It’s really fun to see the spark he brings to his character.”
Tickets for adults cost $19 for evening performances and $17 for Sunday matinee; children and student tickets cost $10. Reserved seating is available.
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 offer refreshments by donations during intermission.
Want to go?
What: “Honus and Me”
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Old Opera House, 204 N. George Street, Charles Town
How much: Evening shows $19 for adults; Sunday matinee $17 for adults; $10 for children and students. To reserve tickets, call 304-725-4420.[/cleeng_content]