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Indiana Repertory Theatre: Tuesdays with Morrie

"Tuesdays with Morrie" is sports writer and broadcaster Mitch Albom’s moving story of the friendship with his former professor Morrie Schwartz during the last few months of Morrie’s. The story began as a best selling book. It then became a popular made-for-TV movie with a substantial cast, staring Hank Azaria and Jack Lemon. Still later author Albom and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher made it into a two character play. Their "Tuesdays with Morrie" is currently being presented in a magically graceful, funny and touching production at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Ryan Artzberger plays Mitch the reporter. He tells the story, but he’s also very much a character in the drama. Mitch has been a terrific success as a journalist, but still somehow suspects that there’s something missing. He’s coming for just a quick courtesy visit to a dying man, but somehow seems to be seeking more. It’s easy to believe that Artzberger is just this young man.

The dying professor, the Morrie of "Tuesdays with Morrie," is played by Jon Farris. For Morrie, the casual visit from his former student offers him a chance to continue his main love in life, teaching. So with the student and the professor both with something to gain, the regular Tuesday afternoon sessions begin. Farris does a masterful job of presenting the vigorous Morrie as his illness progressively robs him of his body while his mind still works.

Risa Brainin’s direction keeps the story smoothly moving with lots of variety and shifts the action around so that there’s plenty to see from the sides as well as the front of the thrust stage in the IRT’s intimate upstairs theatre.

I mentioned that "Tuesdays with Morrie" is graceful and indeed Morrie enters and even leaves dancing. It’s also very funny. Much of the humor is from the wry Morrie at the expense of student Mitch, but Mitch gets in a few of his own. Naturally in a story of a student’s visits to his dying professor we expect a lecture and perhaps even a sermon, but Morrie’s thoughts are always meaningful and brief. His final concerns have nothing to do and all to do with death. They are all about life and reflect a generous spirit. His advice includes forgiveness to and for all, the thought that "taking is dying, giving is living" and, that "love is the only rational act." Morrie sees this all as leading to the goal of "trying to be as human as you can be."

"Tuesdays with Morrie" continues at the Indiana Repertory Theatre with performances through January 13th.

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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