Tuesdays with Morrie is a play that strikes us to the very core. It’s about dealing with loss, coping with death and learning what it means to truly live. It’s a stark reminder that the time that we have is short, so we should live and love boldly every single day. To live instead of merely exist. A.D. Players’ take, directed by Jennifer Dean, and delivered those messages beautifully — with charm and
Originally written as a memoir by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie chronicles Albom’s visits with his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz. Upon learning from a friend that Schwartz is dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Albom feels guilty that the two of them have fallen out of touch; it had been sixteen years since they’d last spoken. Albom goes to visit Schwartz, and their reunion leads to Albom visiting his old professor every Tuesday, commuting from Michigan to Massachusetts. The memoir was later adapted into a two-man stage play on November 19, 2002, opening Off Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
While other characters are acknowledged or implied to be in the same location as Morrie and Mitch, we never see or hear them (aside from a brief recording at the end of the production), and that’s quite apt, as what matters is the relationship between two old friends and how one person can make a monumental difference in someone’s life.
Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom are played by Kevin Cooney and Jake Speck, respectively, and the chemistry between the two is, simply put, endearing. Cooney in particular doesn’t miss a beat with his timing and creates a warm character that you can’t help but fall in love with. From Morrie’s dancing to his seemingly infinite wisdom (and a snark that he teases Mitch with through-out the show), he has likeability for days. Speck creates a character that is all too familiar; it’s as if Mitch is meant to be a mirror of ourselves, particularly in today’s fast-paced society. Mitch is perpetually stressed and without time for much, perhaps even creating excuses or barriers within himself when time is already there. As that rapidly sheds upon reuniting with Morrie, we’re inspired to follow his lead and cherish life and our loved ones for they (and we) won’t always be around.
Tuesdays with Morrie is an interesting play. We know how it’s going to end rather early on, so instead of us as the audience waiting for some type of climactic shift, the effect is one of introspection: we see the rekindling of Morrie and Mitch’s relationship and the limited time they have, and get to ask ourselves questions as we see the two of them reconnect. Are we at peace with ourselves? Have we lived our lives to the fullest? Morrie’s outlook is moving as is Mitch’s newfound perspective. The play strikes a fine balance between somber and charming, and simply put, A.D. Players puts on a strong production that accomplished what they set out to do: encouraging us to live and love fiercely.
With simplistic staging by Kevin Rigdon, most often taking place in a living room, the focus is always where it needs to be — between Morrie and Mitch. Seeing them make memories and impact one another is a joy.
This is a great production, and certainly meets the quality of theatre we’ve come to expect from A.D. Players.