Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Robinson is one of the most revered baseball players in history.

Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Robinson is one of the most revered baseball players in history.

Breaking the color barrier as the first black baseball player to lace up his cleats in the MLB, Robinson's accomplishment was met with ridicule from his white teammates, as well as death threats from Dodgers fans. But Robinson's integrity and strong will to see equality in the MLB overcame the attacks of his adversaries, thus paving the way for ball players of all races to play the great American pastime in the majors.

Robinson's ability to turn the other cheek and walk through the flames of scrutiny and into the Hall of Fame will be told in the Mad River Theater Works' original musical, "Everybody's Hero: The Jackie Robinson Story," which will be performed at the Schwartz Center for the Arts on Saturday, Feb. 8 during Black History Month.

Hitting a homerun on stage

Bob Lucas, the musical director for "Everybody's Hero," created a soundtrack of introspective tunes covered in bluesy grooves that allow the audience to peer into the window of Robinson's soul. There are songs like the "Words Are Alive," a number about the sticks and stones being hurled at Robinson by his enemies, as well as the solitary "No One is Lonelier than Me."

"The writing is powerful and gets to the point" said Lucas, of Zanesfield, Ohio, where Mad River Theater Works is also based.

Lucas, who also plays famed Dodgers executive Branch Rickey in the show, believes "Everybody's Hero" works better as a musical than a play because it allows Robinson's story to be told at a faster pace. "Everybody's Hero" is just shy of an hour long.

"It can take 20 pages of script to do and tell someone something about a character in a play that would take only minutes in a song," he said. "Music moves the plot so quickly."

Looking up to Jackie

Similar to many kids growing up, Steven Rice, who portrays Jackie Robinson, admired the baseball legend as a kid. So to play Robinson in "Everybody's Hero" has been an honor to Rice.

"It feels really good," said the 22-year-old of Atlanta, Ga. "Jackie Robinson is someone I always looked up to because my mom and dad are really good friends with Ernie Banks, and he actually knew Jackie Robinson."

Banks is a Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame inductee who joined the majors in 1953, six years after Robinson broke the color barrier.

"I met [Banks], and he called me one day once I got the role," Rice said. "He said the main thing about Jackie is he was so strong on the inside. He wasn't any better than any of the other players, but mentally and emotionally he was capable of taking so much more than his teammates, and that's what made him really special."

Rice respects what Robinson did on the baseball field. But he's more impressed with what he did off the diamond.

"I think we should remember him as a powerful role model," he said. "When I hear his name, I don't think Jackie Robinson the 'baseball player.' I think Jackie 'the civil rights leader,' because that's what was so great about him. He helped to change the way that most black people were seen by white people."


WHAT "Everybody's Hero: The Jackie Robinson Story,"

WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8

WHERE Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover

COST $25 for adults; $20 for seniors; $15 for children

INFO Visit or call 678-5152