Celebrate 25th Anniversary of 'Hoosiers' with Screening at Elkhart's Lerner Theatre

November 08, 2011

The restored Lerner Theatre will get its basketball baptism when the movie �Hoosiers,� as well as a few of the individuals who either acted in it or inspired it, visit the sparkling downtown landmark next week.

The free 25th-anniversary screening of the film will take place at 8 p.m. Nov. 16.

For those who want a little more from the experience, tickets are also being sold for $35, which includes a meet-and-greet with the actors and ex-Milan High School players, a silent auction, dinner and the choice of viewing the movie from the Crystal Ballroom or moving into the theatre.

The event is being held in conjunction with the Elkhart ArtWalk that takes place beginning at 5 p.m. that day.

The idea for a 25th-anniversary screening of the film was made by downtown business owner and basketball aficionado Brian Jamison.

�He�s the catalyst,� said David Smith, the Lerner�s general manager. �But then as we dialogued, it became something a little bit grander.�

Contact was made with a Milan-based group that is trying to raise funds for a museum there. That group then made contact with many of the ex-players and actors expected to be on hand, and will provide many of the items for the auction, according to Smith.

It was tiny Milan�s improbable run to the 1954 state title during the single-class era that inspired the movie.

Bobby Plump, who hit the real-life, game-winning shot as time expired in the 32-30 championship victory over Muncie Central, is among those hopeful of attending next week, though he has recently been battling illness, according to Smith.

Other players expected to be on hand from the �54 Milan club are Ray Craft, Roger Schroder and Rollin Cutter.

Actors from the movie anticipated to attend include Steve Hollar (a Warsaw graduate and now a Warsaw dentist who played No. 25, Rade Butcher, for fictional Hickory High) and Brad Long (No. 14, team captain Buddy Walker).

Mary Lou Wood, the widow of Marvin Wood � who coached the �54 Milan club and later coached at alma mater Mishawaka � is expected to visit as well.

While the screening is free, Smith said that viewers will be given the chance to make a donation, with those funds going to the Central and Memorial high athletic booster clubs.

�We�d like to do maybe three events a year that kick off the high school seasons in some way and support high school sports,� Smith said.

Part of the proceeds from the dinner will go to the Milan group for its museum fund.

As for �Hoosiers� itself, the 1986 film has been named both by ESPN and in a USA Today poll of readers as the best sports movie ever made. Written by Bloomington native Angelo Pizzo and directed by Decatur native David Anspaugh, the movie starred Gene Hackman as the controversial coach and the late Dennis Hopper, who received an Oscar nomination for his role as an alcoholic father who winds up the assistant coach.

Anticipated auction items next week include Milan and Hickory retro jackets, a Milan 50th anniversary signed basketball, a commemorative ring and other memorabilia described as rare or one-of-a-kind.

Tickets for the dinner and auction go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the Lerner box office. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 293-4469 or visiting www.thelerner.com. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.