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Review: HENRY FORD'S MODEL E - A Historical Drama With a Universal Message

The American industrialist Henry Ford is most frequently remembered for his Model T - an affordable automobile that redefined transportation for middle-class America. The Model T is synonymous with Ford and the success of his automobile empire. But in Herb Brown's new play, the "Model E" reveals itself as the Ford family's most challenging project.

Brown, a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, returns to CATCO with Henry Ford's Model E, his third world premiere play in the last 12 years and the first since The Final Table in 2015. The play explores the contentious relationship between automobile mogul Henry Ford and his promising son Edsel. While Henry grooms Edsel to rise and lead the Ford Motor Company, he repeatedly stifles his son's creativity and innovative ideas through his own reluctance to embrace change.

Brown began researching for the play nearly three years ago, and he was instantly struck by the universality of the themes in Henry and Edsel's story.

"It's a father-son story and I think there's a kind of universality in a father who doesn't see the son for who he is and the talents he has," Brown said. "You see it in athletics with somebody who thinks their son is going to be a great athlete, and then when they don't play in the NFL, they're disappointed in them. Both the father and the son end up very hurt by that."

Steven Black leads the production as Henry Ford, balancing the character's drive and innovativeness with his visceral fear of change and dissent. Black's performance strikes a familiar chord with those that feel like they can never live up to their parents' expectations for them.

As Edsel Ford, Christopher Storer illuminates the struggle to balance family expectations and personal ambitions. Storer portrays Edsel as a non-confrontational character that is continuously met with unreasonable objections by his father. Storer's performance garners sympathy for Edsel, a man who had lost the battle before it even began.

Rounding out the three-man cast is Todd Covert, playing Henry and Edsel's "right-hand man" Charlie Sorensen. Charlie often serves as a mediator between Henry and Edsel, Covert's performance follows the audience's growing sympathy for Edsel. Covert's best moments come when defies Henry and shows respect for Edsel. These moments highlight the show's most prominent power shifts between the Ford duo.

These strong performances help to make the new production a historical drama that carries meaning for audience members of all ages. CATCO will perform Henry Ford's Model E on Wednesday-Sunday until May 7.

More information about the show, including ticketing information and directions, can be found on CATCO's website.

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