THE BASICS: This is the stage adaptation, by Mitch Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, of Albom’s hit memoir of the same name. It concerns a series of visits Albom made to his favorite college professor, Morrie Schwartz, some sixteen years after his graduation. The two develop a strong bond, even as Morrie is dying of ALS. TUESDAYS, a two hander, plays Thursdays through Sundays (no Fridays) at the Jewish Repertory Theatre, in the Benderson building at the JCC in Amherst. Josie DiVincenzo directs Adam Yellen and Jack Hunter. The play runs a trim 90 minutes. There is no intermission. Closing date is February 26.
THE PLAY, THE PERFORMERS AND THE PRODUCTION: It’s not going to take you anywhere surprising, and it’s been designed to play upon your heartstrings, but MORRIE has a lot going for it, and is almost impossible to resist. There’s a surprising amount of twinkly comedy, in addition to a boatload of homespun wisdom a la Morrie. Moreover, it is shot through with the sort of sadness that comes from impending loss. A short, sweet, emotional ride. Consider bringing a hanky!
Adam Yellen, the Director of Performing Arts at the JCC, gives a strong, well judged performance as Albom, Renaissance man and Morrie disciple. Watching veteran Jack Hunter tear into the meaty leading role (Morrie—”A Teacher to the last”) is indeed a treat. Director Josie DiVincenzo keeps things interesting onstage in a play that is, if you think about it, just a couple of guys talking. The spare set by David Dwyer features an interesting central windowpiece. The production is not showy, but is solid in all respects.
IN SUM: TUESDAYS gets a fine remounting at the JRT, as part of their Twentieth season celebration.
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!