Director: Amelia Barrett
At McAninch Arts Center, Theater 2
A Warm Gentle Gem
This delightful play about dying, yes I said dying, really speaks most about living. After all, why would anyone want to see a play about someone’s last days? Morrie Schwartz is in his final months, but the dialogue between him and Mitch Albom certainly creates a play worth our time. The comedy lightens the seriousness of the subject and balances the more poignant ideas about life. Based on a true story published in 1997 authored by Mitch Albom, the script shouts authenticity.
Carl Lindburg as Mitch shows just the right degree of naivete’ portraying a college student, and then angst as the ambitious professional sports writer totally submerged in maintaining his high powered career. He even pulls off a deep voice for a brief well-played bit about Ted Kopell. But his gradual change of character warms one’s heart as the repeated Tuesday visits with Morrie evolve.
Morrie Schwartz, a retired Brandeis sociology professor, played by Michael Sassone, could not have been more convincing. As an actor, Sassone has polished a masterful timing of each and every line for a very consistent character, beautifully uncovered as a lover of dance, in his prime, and in the closing stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease. His primary mission of teaching Mitch provides too many thoughtful moments, one of which is when he says, “If you are not loving, you are dying…if you are loving you are living.” Such a simple thought, but so well executed that he forces one to ponder the very personal and profound meaning.
While the set worked, it could have been a little tighter. There seemed to be too much open space…too much distance to be traversed for this type of intimate play in this perfectly sized theater; but never the less the skill of the two principals and flawless detailed direction by Amelia Barrett made it work. I wondered where Buffalo Theater found such a genuine old and lovely piano to highlight the set…almost like an additional actor quietly observing. The brief interactions of music provide refreshing touches of relief to the story, and also strong drama to one point.
When the play ends with its expected conclusion, it seems that it all stopped much too soon. I would have liked it to go on and hear more from Morrie…but then perhaps this reveals the true meaning of the play…that we always want more from life…for it to go on and on…
“Tuesday’s with Morrie” is storytelling at its best. Buffalo Theater offers a warm gentle gem with ideas that not only entertain, but that may stay with us for months and years to come…very well worth the time and modest ticket price to see. With only two fine actors, a minimal staging, and a small, but powerful play…this is what live theater is all about.
Date Reviewed: May 4. 2012
Performances: May 4 thru May 27, 2012. Running time is 90 minutes, no intermission.
McAninch Arts Center – Theater #2.
College of DuPage – 425 Fawell Blvd. – Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets – $25 to $33 – $2 discounts for non-COD students and seniors. $10 discount for COD students.