By Lynn Geyer
Morrie Schwartz was a Sociology Professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He was a good teacher and a very wise man. Morrie succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is no treatment for this disease; it is always fatal. Before his death, Morrie was visited by Mitch Albom, one of his favorite students.
“Tuesday’s with Morrie,” written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, Lakewood Playhouse’s current production, is a glimpse into a scattering of the times the two men spent together and how their kinship grew.
This is a simple story of the relationship between two ordinary people – one of whom was quite extraordinary.
Luke Amundson is Mitch, the sports reporter who makes time in his life to renew old friendships and regain what the meaning of his life was before joining the rat race. Amundson is quite believable in the role. However, he has his most magic moment near the end of the story as he lifts Morrie from his chair and places him on his bed with palpable loving tenderness.
Elliot Weiner is Morrie. Weiner has delved into the man and becomes him. The actor plays this quiet-spoken man eloquently.
Morrie’s gems of wisdom roll off Weiner’s lips with grace and ease. Diamonds like, “Dying is only one thing to be sad over; living unhappily is something else.” “When you learn how to live, you learn how to die.” “Taking makes me feel like I’m dying — giving makes me feel like I’m living.”
When we first meet Morrie, he has recently been advised of his illness. Weiner plays him as a somewhat jovial person who says, “I am dying and I can live with that.” As the short play continues and Morrie’s disease progresses, Weiner’s character changes both vocally and physically; the audience can almost feel the deterioration of the man.
This is a play about dying, but never has death been so full of life. With a great deal of humor, it virtually shouts that you must go after life and embrace it.
Brie Yost directs “Tuesday’s with Morrie” with feeling and understanding.
Hally Phillips has given us a very simplistic set that works well for the two-person story. The costumes by Karrie Nevin are likewise simple and appropriate as are Jason Burg’s light design and Joseph Kelly’s sound design.
There is no intermission in this 80 minute production. However, after the show, the audience is invited to return to the lobby where no-host refreshments are available while the actors respond to questions about the play and its characters.
“Tuesday’s with Morrie” continues at the Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center through November 8, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There is a Pay-What-You-Can night scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, October 29 and an actors’ benefit performance at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 7.
For reservations or more information, call the box office at (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
Mitch took part in his professor’s “final class” before Morrie passed away in 1995. You still have time to visit with these two friends; don’t pass it up. You’ll learn that “Once you learn how to live, you’ll learn how to die.”