Play explores story of Jackie Robinson
Alex Winegar | Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The Mad River Theater Works (MRTW), an Ohio-based touring theater company, presented the play “Everybody’s Hero: The Story of Jackie Robinson” on Monday night in O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s.
Written and directed by Jeff Hooper, co-founder of MRTW, the musical told the beginning of Robinson’s baseball career for the Brooklyn Dodgers. A cast of six performed, including Bob Lucas, co-founder of MRTW and the show’s composer.
Richard Baxter, director of special events, said MRTW came to Saint Mary’s last year, and performed the play “Freedom Bound.”
“[MRTW] has been around since the late 1970s, and their primary mission is to get original works out into areas that don’t have access to the arts,” Baxter said. “Their purpose is to take their program with the original music and take it to school auditoriums and places that don’t have access to touring shows. They’re coming to Saint Mary’s because they have a great show and they have a history of doing great shows.”MRTW came to Saint Mary’s as part of the Shaheen/Duggan Performing Arts Series, sponsored by the Office of Special Events. This series which will feature a yet-unannounced spring theater performance from April 3 to 6 and a performance of “The Snail and The Whale,” a children’s show that will premiere April 26, Baxter said.
“‘Everybody’s Hero’ was written in 2004 with permission from the Robinson family and will conclude its run with MRTW tomorrow in Ohio,” Lucas said.
The show was chosen by the Office of Student Activities because February is Black History Month and because Robinson broke many racial barriers, Baxter said.
“Baseball means grass and summer and that’s what we need right now — warm weather,” Baxter said. “More importantly this celebrates the breaking of a racial barrier in professional sports, and [Robinson] made it possible for athletes in all fields and all arenas to integrate the professional world of sports.”
Baxter said the cast of “Everybody’s Hero” hopes to instill the feelings of joy, pride and courage to go out on one’s own in its audience. The play examines the ways individuals can help make the world a more inclusive environment, Baxter said.
“We need to be socially conscious,” he said. “We need to be inclusive. We need to take this sense of community we have here and take it past the confines of the campus as we go out.
“I would hope a student coming to see the show would go out and ask, ‘How can I help integrate the world in which I’m going in whatever way? … How can I make this a more accepting environment?’”
Kalyn Whitaker, assistant director of arts for the Office of Special Events, said the performance allows the audience to see what Robinson experienced.
“[The play helps the audience learn] the story of Jackie Robinson and … the things he experienced during his time and how much he influenced baseball at the time, and not just baseball itself, but anything toward the African-American culture and how far he pushed it into the future,” Whitaker said.