note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco
“Tuesdays with Morrie” currently at 2nd Story Theatre is a simple at times funny at times moving tale about inescapable death delivered by an excellent cast with great chemistry and impeccable skills. Written for the stage by Mitch Albion (who wrote the book) and Jeffrey Hatcher it is rich with laughs and simple yet ingratiating poignancy that moves the entire audience a feast for mind and heart.
It tells the tale of Mitch and now well known sport writer, radio and television sports commentator who once wanted to be a musician but gave it up in a dark moment to pursue the writing career which leads to great success. He was Morrie’s student at Brandeis who promised to keep in touch but never did. What altered this was when Mitch sees his former teacher on Nightline with Ted Koppel talking about dying of Lou Gherig’s disease. So despite the 16 year lapse Mitch decides to visit his former teacher. A newspaper strike makes it so that Mitch can visit Morrie more regularly and he does, faithfully. The book and play are based on the 14 Tuesdays they met.
Jeff DiSisto is Mitch. He starts out as an eager undergraduate at Brandeis with a passion for music and an unfettered desire to be a musician. Those goals fall aside and he is driven by ambition to be the best in his field as a sport writer. The only thing he can devote time to is his career. His interactions with Morrie change al that, as he goes from a man of relentless ambition to someone who cares. It is a superb performance, full of nuance and finesse. It is a sincere transformation.
Jay Burke is Morrie a simple man well educated but full of aphorisms about life and not reluctant to share them liberally. He faces his impending death with grace, dignity and humanity, He faces it with a sense of humor that is compelling and natural. Burke is stunning in the role, always natural and on target. He offers a true humanity that is both inviting and engaging.
Mark Peckham directs with finesse and simplicity. He keeps all on course with an underlying humanity and connection that goes from the funny to the moving, evoking the best from his actors.
Ax Ponticelli’s set design is stunning evoking the office with a large tree and windows looming overheard and behind with fall foliage which frame the space effectively.
The play runs for an hour and a quarter and is sheer delight. The sold out audience gave it a well deserved standing ovation for its moving and funny display which was sure to please. It sells out soon so get your tickets ASAP if you want to see it.