Encore Michigan

“Old Heart,” WW2 bi-racial love story premieres at Redford Theatre 5/14-15

Show Announcement May 06, 2022

REDFORD, MI–Adapted from the award winning novel by South Haven’s Peter Ferry,  Old Heart is a story of the Holocaust, interracial connection and bravery in the face of tyrannical injustice. The new play debuts at The Redford Theatre in Redford Michigan on May 14-15.

It is also a bittersweet love story about two people from different worlds struggling to escape their pasts. Lt. Tom Johnson, an 85 year-old  Detroit vet, skips out on his family’s plan to send him to assisted living.  Instead, he secretly flies to Amsterdam in 2006 and begins searching for the Jewish translator, Sarah van Praag, who helped him smuggle food and supplies across Nazi lines to the Dutch starving in cities like Amsterdam during the hunger winter of 1944-45.

More information, including tickets, on Old Heart is at https://redfordtheatre.com/events/old-heart-world-premiere/.

Director Karl King is the grandson of the legendary Motown principal Maurice King who produced the touring Motown Revue and America’s first integrated touring female singing group, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. He also discovered Gladys Knight when she was 12. 

King is well known for his urban “dramedies,” such as There Goes The Neighborhood, about a white couple moving into an African American neighborhood.  His father worshipped at a synagogue in Birmingham and his great grandmother was Jewish.

The production has received a Michigan Humanities grant, sponsorship from the Urban League and support from the Jewish Federation, The Holocaust Center, the state Department of Veterans Affairs, ROTC groups, museums, libraries, schools, colleges and theater groups.

“The all-volunteer Redford Theater, co-producer of the play, has put together a great team and we are also getting a lot of media attention,” says King. “Old Heart author Peter Ferry, who lives in South Haven, will join us, and the cast includes some of the state’s best actors.”

See trailer here.

King says that the hidden history of the Red Ball Express team, shown in the show’s trailer, is an important part of the story. Without their courageous 36 hour shifts driving through Nazi minefields and enemy fire, General Patton’s army could not have brought a swift end to the European campaign=, says King. In addition, the story, he notes, is closely connected to current events in the Ukraine, which makes an 80-year old story even more relevant today.

Old Heart Cast:

Old Tom Johnson: Ed Gaines

Brooks Johnson: Sam Prince

Christine Panco: Crystal Smith

Nora Panco: Kaylee King

Daniel Pecora: Mic Larry

Captain VanderArk: Robert Cicchini

Annemarie Dekker: Carol Ludwick

Dickie Druyf: Alan Madlane

Young Tom Johnson: Jakari Carson

Sarah van Praag: Melanie Lamrock

Mayor: Steve Overstreet

Renate de Wit: Shelley Irwin

Hendrick de Wit: John DeMerell

Ella Mostert: Cherry Sparks

Detective; Marcus Gleaves

Ticket Clerk: Nancy Pennington

Policeman: Alex Bernhardt

Nurse: Alexandra Van Ryn

Ella Mostert: Cherry Sparks

Jeanette Braden: Kristen Nader

Anton Smits: Roosevelt Johnson

Stenographer: Arabia Bay

Pim deWit: Jean Bahle

Week of 8/15/2022

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