Home > News from our clients > Grosse Pointe Theatre presents The Exonerated, Actual stories of those falsely accused and imprisoned

Grosse Pointe Theatre presents The Exonerated, Actual stories of those falsely accused and imprisoned

Grosse Pointe Theatre’s Purdon Studio Theatre presents The Exonerated by Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank, the compelling true stories of six people who, wrongfully convicted of murder, served harrowing sentences on death row waiting for their own execution. (Subsequently proven innocent, they were released and exonerated of the crimes.)

The Exonerated opens Friday, February 18, 8:00 p.m. at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Activities Center, 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores. The $35 opening night performance includes a wine and hors d’oeuvres afterglow.


The Exonerated continues on February 19, 25, and 26 at 8:00 p.m. and on Sundays, February 20 and 27 with 2:00 p.m. matinees. Tickets are $12 for these performances. Call Grosse Pointe Theatre at 313-881-4004 for tickets or go on-line at http://www.GPT.org. Seating is limited.


This play is suitable for mature audiences only. The compelling script is based upon court records, media accounts, and the actual narratives of those exonerated. The authors, Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank, a husband and wife team, have been active in causes related to the death penalty and have received the Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for this play.


The entire script for The Exonerated is in the actual words of the exonerated prisoners, as well as the judges, attorneys, friends and families. Audiences should be aware that all these characters are real.  The names have not been changed.  They are currently alive and surviving their horrendous experiences as prisoners on death row.  We have seen their faces and heard their voices in the HBO movie of The Exonerated.


The Rev. Canon Ron Spann, Detroit, is the Spirituality Center Director and a priest associate at Christ Church Grosse Pointe. Rev. Spann plays Delbert Tibbs, a poet and former seminary student.  Ron has been in contact with the real Delbert Tibbs, now living in Chicago and an activist for the anti-capital punishment cause.


Sharron Nelson, Grosse Pointe, plays Sunny Jacobs who, along with her husband, was erroneously convicted of shooting two police officers. Unfortunately Sunny Jacob’s husband was executed before the proof of their innocence was revealed.


Thomas Wilson, Detroit, plays David Keaton, who was convicted as a teenager of a murder of which he was innocent. Kirkland Williams, Grosse Pointe, plays Robert Hayes, a horse trainer in Florida, falsely convicted of murder and rape. Jerry Nehr; Grosse Pointe Woods, portrays Gary Gauger, a mid-west farmer, found innocent of the murder of his parents after serving many years in prison. Alan Canning, Bloomfield Hills, plays Kerry Max Cook.  Cook was convicted of the murder of a woman he had seen only once, years before she was found murdered.  He was subsequently found to be innocent through DNA evidence. Roles of wives, attorneys, judges, police, relatives and friends are played variously by Peter DiSante of S.C.S., Don Couture of Harrison Township, Pat O’Brien, Grosse Pointe Park , and Heather Neely, Detroit .


Lois Bendler is the director and set designer and Arlene Marie Schoenherr is the producer/stage manager. Both women reside in St. Clair Shores.  Ginger Hupp, Grosse Pointe, is the show’s costume consultant.  Eric Lesczynski, Grosse Pointe Woods, is doing the lighting and Eric Vreeland, St. Clair Shores, is doing sound.


Grosse Pointe Theatre’s 63rd Season continues:


Following The Exonerated, Grosse Pointe Theatre presents Dixie Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, March 6, 10-13, 16-19, 2011, on its main stage, Fries Auditorium at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms . The final show of the season will be The Scarlet Pimpernel, based on the works by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, May 8, 12-15, 18-21, 2011.

Grosse Pointe Theatre’s Youth on Stage will produce a children’s version of the musical, Annie Jr. with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, book by Thomas Meehan, based on the Tribune Media Service Comic Strip, Little Orphan Annie, on April 9 & 10, 2011.  Call the theatre for details.

For more information about Grosse Pointe Theatre, please visit the website at http://www.gpt.org or phone 313-881-4004.


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