The Purple Rose Theatre Company Hosted House of Heroes Event


Ken Hamilton (Chelsea Fire Authority) and his wife, Traci, were guests of Will Johnson (also Shown) for this event.

The Purple Rose Theatre Company (PRTC) hosted a very special House of Heroes event with a free matinee performance of “Pickleball” by Jeff Daniels, on Sunday, October 23, 2022, at 2PM. The event was sponsored by Willard H. Johnson, President Emeritus of Chelsea Hospital and Diane Kurtz. To honor the caregivers and first responders who worked long, difficult hours during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and those that continue to fight on the front lines today, Willard H. Johnson invited medical staff, hospital workers, nurses, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and other first-responders in our community to this free performance.

Johnson is himself a pickleball player and designed a pickleball court in his driveway for neighbors and friends to come by and play outside. When Johnson learned of Daniels' new comedy, "Pickleball", he contacted Robert Caplis, Director of Donor Engagement, at The Purple Rose Theatre Company, and Jennifer Maisch, Director of Development at Chelsea Hospital, to organize a free performance for Chelsea's hometown heroes who remain on the COVID-19 front lines.

Guests mingled afterwards for cookies and refreshments provided by Will Johnson and Diane Kurtz.

"After the prolonged disruption of the pandemic, it's great to finally welcome these hometown heroes back to our theatre with a comedy that brings disruptive laughter," said Caplis. "All of us at The Purple Rose were thrilled to work with Will and Chelsea Hospital to celebrate the individuals in healthcare and first-response who took care of us then and continue to take care of us."

Willard H. Johnson served as the first full-time president and chief executive officer of Chelsea Hospital, formerly Chelsea Community Hospital, from September 1975 until his retirement in 1998. He was instrumental in the founding of Huron Valley Ambulance, which serves residents across Washtenaw County and throughout southern Michigan.

Jennifer Maisch, Director of Philanthropy at Chelsea Hospital noted, "We are so thankful to Will Johnson, our former Chelsea Hospital president, donor and community member for recognizing our healthcare workers and first responders in this way. Will and Diane have mirrored the grateful sentiments of our entire community with this very generous gift".

“Pickleball” a World Premiere Comedy by Jeff Daniels, directed by Rhiannon Ragland (September 30 - December 17, 2022)

In a wild comedy about America’s fastest growing sport, four below average players must overcome their own limitations in order to achieve greatness in a game that has nothing to do with pickles.

*Contains adult language and content.

Underwriting support for The Purple Rose 2022-2023 season comes from The Ford Motor Company Fund, The Hamp Family, Michigan Arts & Culture Council, National Endowment for the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, and The Matilda R. Wilson Fund. “Pickleball” production sponsors are Secret Crisis Comics and McClure’s Pickles. Media sponsors include,, JTV.TV, and Michigan Radio.

Regular performances of “Pickleball” run through Saturday, December 17, 2022. Show times and performance days: 8:00 pm Thursday through Saturday, 3:00 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and 2:00 pm Sunday. Special discounts are available for students, seniors, teachers, veterans/military personnel and groups. Prices range from $29-$52. Patrons can purchase tickets at the box office, by phone (734) 433-7673 or online at

The Purple Rose Theatre Company is located at 137 Park Street, Chelsea, Michigan 48118.

About The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Founded in 1991 by actor, playwright, musician and Chelsea native, Jeff Daniels, The Purple Rose Theatre Company is a creative home for original American plays. In the 168-seat theatre, patrons experience an intimate encounter with live theatre. The PRTC also provides classes, readings, lectures and tours. It commissions new work from established and early-career playwrights. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit professional theatre, the PRTC operates under a Small Professional- Theatre agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association.

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