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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

Review: 'Tuesdays with Morrie' at Barter is 'Superb!'


"Tuesdays With Morrie" is a touching, humorous and unforgettable true story about the friendship between an accomplished journalist and his former college professor.

Two Actors Wring Emotion from Excellent Script

By ROBERT McKINNEY | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER | June 17, 2010

*** Published: June 13, 2010 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***

"Tuesdays with Morrie" is an excellent example of why I often prefer Barter Stage II productions over the larger and much more extravagant offerings on the Mainstage across the street.

It features two incredibly talented actors at the heights of their art, wringing every last bit of emotion out of an excellently crafted script.

It is the story of how Mitch Albom (Danny Vaccaro) reconnects with his old college professor, mentor and friend Morrie Schwartz (Gannon McHale) after the passing of many years and how the two work through Morrie's approaching death and Mitch's successful, but unfulfilling life.

After a chance reconnection, Mitch begins visiting Morrie at his home every Tuesday and, as they discuss a great variety of things, we see Morrie's quickening deterioration from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

As with, I believe, almost all good dramas, there is no real "ending" to this story. Morrie dies, but Mitch, although arguably wiser and more in touch with himself, is left to struggle on for resolutions. We, the audience, are also left to make up our own minds about what the future holds for him and, in a way, for ourselves. Left, but not stranded.

This is a play that is often funny, often wise and thoughtful and more than a bit disturbing as, through watching Morrie gradually lose his grip on his body, we are forced to think about how it will or might be for ourselves in our final days.

Death and what, if anything, lies beyond is something that all of us will have to face sooner or later. But, does experiencing death as it takes a loved one make our own harder or easier?

Will we, like Morrie, face that veil from which no man returns with mental and moral dignity?

In addition to riveted performances by Vaccaro and McHale, the play also features the offstage voice of Tricia Matthews.

Direction is by Evalyn Baron and she has gotten this rather difficult production right on the money.

I can't recommend "Tuesdays with Morrie" for everyone even though I wish I could. It requires much more thought and vicarious involvement than many are willing to invest. Yet, for many adults and serious young people it is an experience that will be long remembered. It runs through Aug. 29.

-For dates, times and reservations: 276-628-38991 or http://www.bartertheatre.com.

A! ExtraTopics: Theatre