Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tuesdays With Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie was a book written a few years ago. I remember it being such a big deal. Hearing about it on the news and on best seller lists wasn’t uncommon. However, even though I’m a reader, I never read that one.

So going into see a play based on the book (which was based on a true story), I wasn’t exactly sure what I had to expect. Other than what I’d heard about the show, of course. Several people had already told me that I needed to see the show.

In fact, I had one person tell me he saw it twice, and was thinking about seeing it a third time. And of course, I read the fantastic review by Jeffrey Ellis on Being forewarned, I took some tissues in my purse. I’m glad I did. I needed them.

If you don’t know the premise of the story, let me give you a basic rundown. Mitch Albom gets close to his undergrad sociology professor and promises, upon graduation, to stay in touch. But he doesn’t. Many years pass and Mitch grows up to be a self-centered, career driven journalist who doesn’t seem to do anything but work.
One day he sees a special on Dateline that has his old professor on it. Morrie had Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s dying. In an effort to make himself feel better, Mitch goes to visit Morrie. Over time, these visits become a weekly occurance and Morrie teaches his last class to Mitch. They cover love, life, death, family, and many other topics.

You’d think that a 90 minute play, with no intermission, that consists of only two characters on stage (a third is a nurse, who has no lines) could be boring. It wasn’t. Turns out the people I’d talk to, and Jeffery Ellis, who recommend it in his review, were right: I did need tissues.

Morrie was played by the amazing John Fionte. I can honestly say that his performance was one of the best I’ve seen. Ever. In any theatre, including on Broadway. He was nearly perfect in his role as the ageing man living with years of knowledge and dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. At the different stages of the disease, Mr. Fionte changed. Although I don’t know much about Lou Gehrig’s, I get the feeling that his visual progression of the disease was right on.

Mitch Albom was played by Daniel Black. He was the perfect opposite of Fionte’s Morrie. He did a fantastic job of starting out the self-centered, work driven journalist who was trying to sooth his guilty conscious. And he seamlessly transitioned to a younger person learning from his mentor, and beginning to understand the real meaning of lives.

I wish that I could put into words how magnificent this show was. But I honestly don't think that I have the ability to do so. All I can say is that it was a truly moving experience for me.

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