Review from the Dearborn Times-Herald:

Dearborn Times-Herald
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
"From the Front Row" by Sue Suchyta


The Michigan Labor History Society and Matrix Theatre Company's production of the jazz opera, "Forgotten: The Murder at the Ford Rouge Plant" is a passionate political recreation of a dark period in Dearborn history. While the play strongly reflects its labor roots, it draws on actual historical events that were undeniably harsh to pre-union blue-collar workers.

Composer Steve Jones, a distant relative of the late labor activist Lewis Bradford, created the jazz opera as a tribute to Bradford and others who struggled for the right of labor to organize in the tumultuous 1930s.

Lewis Bradford was a minister who worked with the poor during the Great Depression. His radio show, "The Forgotten Man's Hour," on WXYZ, was a welcome counterpart to WJR's now infamous anti-Semitic priest, the Rev. Charles Coughlin. In 1936, Bradford took a job at the Ford Rouge plant, both to earn money for surgery needed by his daughter Ella, and to bridge the gap he saw growing between management and labor.

However, in a period ruled by Henry [sic] Bennett and colored by the Battle of the Overpass, Bradford's days were numbered. Bradford was found unconscious in a remote part of the Rouge plant, and soon died of his injuries. At the time, autopsy evidence was suppressed, but recently uncovered forensic evidence supports the theory that Bradford's blunt force trauma to the head was a homicide.

The cast of "Forgotten" filled the auditorium at Marygrove with unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Among the most memorable numbers were, "Keep the Wheels Rolling On" and "Battle of the Overpass." "Sit Down," by Maurice Sugar, struck a strong emotional chord as well.

The one-week run of the show, performed at Marygrove College, closed last weekend. Despite the show's strong emotional impact, and close attention to research in some areas, it lessened its credibility by presenting a narrow and one-dimensional picture of Henry Ford. Ford, despite his shortcomings and prejudices, was an intelligent, multi-dimensional man who dramatically changed the face of American industry, and Dearborn, immeasurably. The play's simplistic portrayal of Henry Ford undermines the credibility of what is otherwise a believable and highly moving work, and may prevent this otherwise epic work from being performed more widely in our region.

The "Forgotten" Story * Performances * News * Orders
About Us * Contact Us * Home