Willpower: An Original Play about Marquette’s Ossified Man

Willpower: An Original Play about Marquette’s Ossified Man

Willpower is an original play written by Tyler Tichelaar, directed by Moire Embley, and produced by the Marquette Regional History Center. Performances will be September 18 and 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Kaufman Auditorium, Marquette, MI.There are some stories that deserve to be told.  As a young boy Will Adams’ soft tissues were becoming harder, turning him into a living statue.  Others faced with such a dark future might have felt sorry for themselves, turning inward.  Not so for Will, his disease brought about an amazing creative burst of energy.  His story is as inspiring today as it was 100 years ago.  With a stellar cast and direction, this will be a “do not miss” production! Tickets in advance are $15; $20 at the door. Adams house - 200 Ridge Street

The Historic Adams Home at 200 E. Ridge St. where Will Adams lived with his parents and sister.

Tickets are on sale now, and will be available at the History Center or through nmu.edu/tickets.Support for the production of Willpower includes a Major Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council as well as additional support from the Marquette Community Foundation and the Upper Peninsula Health Plan. Press Release.

Michigan Humanities Council Marquette Community Foundation
Upper Peninsula Health Plan

Listen to Tyler’s discussion of Willpower at the Marquette Regional History Center’s annual meeting on February 26, 2013, and a dramatic reading by Jessica “Red” Bays of a scene from the play.

Audition dates scheduled for Willpower – Auditions for the Marquette Regional History Center’s production of Willpower, an original play by local author Tyler Tichelaar, will be held July 11 and 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., with callbacks on July 14 from noon to 4:00 p.m. Both auditions and callbacks will be at the City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center in Workshop #4. A pianist will be provided on both audition days. Please prepare a ninety- second cutting from a musical or Broadway style song, and monologue. There will also be cold reading material provided at auditions for those who do not have a monologue prepared. Those who cannot attend either audition day should call Moire Embley at 869-2290 or Red Bays at 226-3571, or email moireembley@gmail.com to set up a separate time. Scripts will be available to pick up at MRHC starting June 3. For details, call 226-3571.

More about Will Adams, from Tyler R. Tichelaar’s book My Marquette:

Will Adams, the adopted son of Sidney and Harriet Adams, was born in 1878 to Detroit parents who died while he was an infant. In his youth, Will was a soloist in the boys choir at school and church and enjoyed athletic pursuits, but a baseball injury resulted in soft tissue becoming hard until eventually he ossified into a living statue. By his mid-teens he was confined to a portable couch and only his face remained mobile. By sheer willpower, Will survived to the age of thirty-one. No longer able to perform athletics, he became one of Marquette’s first literary figures, starting his own magazine business. His family hired him an attendant to whom he could dictate his magazine. He named his magazine CHIPS. Besides his own text, he included political cartoons and even caricatures of such town leaders as Peter White, Nathan Kaufman, and John M. Longyear. The paper was largely supported by advertising, so a phone was installed in the Adams home, and his attendant would hold the phone to Will’s mouth so he could talk up his bi-monthly magazine to prospective advertisers.
Will also composed an opera with his childhood friend, Norma Ross, then the directress of the Marquette schools’ music program. Will hummed melodies and Ross wrote them down. Their end result was the production of Miss D. Q. Pons an opera which premiered at the Marquette Opera House on July 3, 1905 with Ross in the title role. Will viewed the opera from the wing in his portable bed, and when its success led to the troupe traveling for sellout performances in Ishpeming, Hancock, Calumet, and Sault Ste. Marie, Will traveled with them by train. In 1906, Will also founded another newspaper, the Marquette Chronicle to which he contributed an original article each day. He died on August 10, 1909, preceded by his adopted father, Sidney Adams in 1906. Will once joked about his literary efforts, “Every specimen of writ is a silent story of how the author was saved from cerrebrius combustion.”

Will Adams with his parents Sidney and Harriet Adams, sister Bertha, and friend Norma Ross (seated) on the Adams Family Porch. (Photo Courtesy of the J.M. Longyear Research Library)

Will Adams with his parents Sidney and Harriet Adams, sister Bertha, and
friend Norma Ross (seated) on the Adams Family Porch.
(Photo Courtesy of the J.M. Longyear Research Library)

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