Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Tuesdays With Morrie"
"What Happened in Boston, Willie"
Reviews of Current Productions
note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone
"TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE"
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
2nd Story Theatre's first show of their summer season is "Tuesdays With Morrie" based on a true story by Mitch Albom. The play is about 1979 Brandeis graduate Mitch Albom reconnecting with his sociology teacher Morrie Schwartz sixteen years later in 1995 after Mitch sees his old professor on Nightline with Ted Koppel. What Mitch learns from Morrie is that everything in life matters. Morrie is dying from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease but instead of pitying himself, he shares everything that is important to himself until the very last moment. Knowing that he was dying, Mitch visited with Morrie in his study every Tuesday in the last months of his life, like they use to in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class" on lessons in how to live. When Mitch finally visits Morrie years later, he is an award-winning sports columnist with the Detroit Free Press. He started out years before to become a jazz pianist but the death of his musical mentor, Uncle Mike at the age of 42 made him give up music and become a journalist. Morrie teaches Mitch his philosophies on life, dying, communication, money, happiness, family, marriage, love and friends. He teaches Mitch how to express his feelings after bottling them up inside, "The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and to let it come in." Morrie also wanted Mitch to know not to hide his light under a bushel. This powerful and heart rending play is given an excellent rendition at 2nd Story Theatre. Insightful director Mark Peckham cast two superb performers in these two roles and they capture your hearts with their comic and dramatic dialogue, leaving you in tears at the close of this show. Its reward is a well deserved standing ovation from the sobbing crowd. This is one show that you should not miss because absolutely everyone will be able to relate to it in one way or the other.
Both actors are dynamite in their roles. Jeff DeSisto is outstanding as Mitch. I have seen Jeff mature as an actor from undergrad days at Providence College to being a graduate student in Connecticut. Jeff narrates the show at times as the scenes change from 1979 to 1995. As Mitch, he goes from college days to later as a sportswriter and how he has changed after losing his uncle to cancer and not having a chance to say goodbye to him. Mitch is embittered at this point but Morrie changes his way of life by admitting his love for his student and telling him to never be afraid to show another person you love them. Jeff's transition from bitterness to love is fantastically portrayed and his tears at this moment in the show will definitely tug on your heartstrings, making you cry along with him. Jay Burke as Morrie captures the essence of this tragic figure but infuses him with wit, humor and topnotch acting needed to temper the impending doom. Jay is fabulous in this role, making you cry when he is unable to eat egg salad Mitch brought him and his tremors as this fatally ill man are splendidly done. Bravo to Jeff and Jay on a job very well done. Mark always excels at his directing endeavors and this is one more feather in his cap. The set by Max Ponticelli is outstanding with a tree looming over a Morrie's living room set with a baby grand piano in it. There are leaves strewn around the set from the tree because one of Morrie's lines is "A leaf of a tree has the most color before it dies", symbolizing Morrie's bringing life and love to Mitch's life after his death. So for a marvelous evening of superb acting and direction, be sure to catch "Tuesdays With Morrie" at 2nd Story Theatre. The demand for this show has been overwhelming and the closing date has been extended to July 17. Run do not walk to the box office to catch this absolutely mesmerizing show before it is too late.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE(3 June to 17 July)
2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market Street, Warren, RI
1(401)247-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com