What do you get when you combine two outstanding performers, flawless stage direction, a wonderful set, great lighting and a script that makes you laugh and cry? You get Tuesdays with Morrie currently being presented at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham.
`Tuesdays with Morrie` by Jeffery Hatcher and Mitch Albom is the retelling of Albom’s book about his relationship with Morrie Schwartz, Albom’s sociology professor at Brandeis University, and his reconnection with Schwartz 16 years after graduation after seeing a story on him on `Nightline.` Schwartz is diagnosed with ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is debilitating and always fatal.
The play is a story of living and not dying that is perhaps the greatest message that emerges from the show. The story traces Schwartz’s decline and eventual death. The story centers on life, however, focuses on the things Schwartz has to do while those around him tend to want to focus on the inevitable end. Schwartz is Albom’s life coach; we see how the 30-something sports reporter who appears to have the world on a string, truly is the one spinning out of control. The 78-year-old Schwartz helps him put life into perspective.
The production, deftly directed by Curtain Call’s Artistic Director Steve Fletcher, is seamless. He pulls the most from his performers, making them walk a range of emotions without ever appearing unbelievable. Richard Lounello, as Albom, works the gambit of emotions from A to Z with aplomb and ease. He takes the audience with him on the journey of self-discovery and growth that is as much a trip for the audience as the character.
Paul Richer is without exception one of the Capital District’s greatest theatrical treasures. He consistently manages to inhabit his characters completely with a focus rarely seen on the local stage. Morrie is no exception. We are taken by the sheer magnitude of his performance, not only the physical manifestations of the illness, but the emotional journey his character endures.
Each character is on a journey and each journey has a different end. We watch Lounello reach his emotional peak in a riveting scene at Schwartz’ bedside. The emotional catharsis of his character is complete. It is also the emotional peak for the audience. Richer brings his character to its peak when recalling the death of his mother. Together, the two performers present a near perfect evening in the theater.
Dee Mulford’s set design works remarkably well on Curtain Call’s limited stage. John Miller’s lighting brings a warmth to the production that rounds it out.
`Tuesdays with Morrie` is an opportunity to see theater at its finest. The production runs Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8, Sunday matinee at 2 p.m., now through July 1. For information, call the box office at 877-7529 or check the Web site at www.curtaincalltheatre.com. “