|From In the Spotlight|
"Tuesdays with Morrie"
Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
Through April 8
Overhead at The Majestic were audience members' comments to the effect that the current play "Tuesdays with Morrie" is this theatre's "best in years even when we've seen some excellent shows." Who needs a critic when the audience said it all, succinctly and perfectly? Yet, reviewers like to feel important and useful by putting their accolades or suggestions into print. In addition, not everyone has yet seen "Tuesdays with Morrie" so it is the reviewer's job to assist theatre venues to increase audience sizes. Here are the comments.
Many have read Mitch Albom's very successful book about his teacher/mentor/coach Morrie. Interestingly, Albom found it very difficult to find a publisher. Today this story is considered one of the top 10 memoirs ever written. Albom is certainly proud of this accomplishment. As for Morrie, who did not live to know of the book's publishing, he is equally proud. That last statement is a stretch even for a reviewer to see beyond the grave. Yet, without a doubt, everyone who experiences this powerfully emotional play knows that Morrie continues to coach Mitch.
Three elements prove to the audience that the Morries of our lives never cease the relationships with those they love, if the recipient is truthful with him/herself and accepting of that love. Element number one is the beautifully poignant, accurate, and humorous script. Element number two is the fine-tuned movements, pacing, and exposition by director Keith Langdale. This young man is new to The Majestic, and should be a regular among its cadre of directors. Element number three is the acting by Gregg Wolff (Mitch) and Dick Volker (Morrie).
Oftentimes, theatergoers wonder about the "guts" it takes younger, less experienced actors to square-off with the pros. Who wanted to be in Olivier's "Hamlet" when you won't be remembered? This isn't to say that Wolff is the novice and/or that Volker is Sir Laurence. Yet, at the local theatre level, the comparison is not far-fetched. In this case, however, the men are equally superb individually and as a team. They show us acceptance of their characters' foibles and growth of their love. With each new scene, Volker in particular, has the opportunity to portray physical and emotional frailty, sometimes with the smallest of nuances.
For those who want to laugh, to cry, and to do both at the same time, "Tuesdays with Morrie" must be seen.