New Jewish Theatre Draws Strong Emotions with “Tuesdays with Morrie”

“Death ends a life, not a relationship”

Photo by Eric Woolsey

By the end of the 80 minute production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” at New Jewish Theatre, there wasn’t a dry eye in house. Within the length of the play, the audience laughed, cried, and sometimes did both at the same time. 

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is based on a book of the same name which was written by Mitch Albom in 1997. The story is based on actual events that took place between him and his mentor/teacher. After seeing his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, being interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline and learning that Morrie had been diagnosed with ALS (often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Albom started flying to Morrie’s home in Massachusetts from Detroit for Tuesday visits. After about fourteen visits, Morrie finally lost his battle with ALS when it took his ability to breath. Alborn’s book, later adapted as a play with Alborn and Jeffrey Hatcher, is full of lessons and wisdom that Morrie imparts to him in his final stages of life.

“Learn how to live and you’ll know how to die; learn how to die, and you’ll know how to live.”

Photo by Eric Woolsey

Through out the length of the play, you see the evolution of this timeless friendship. Whether it’s Morrie’s many words of wisdom or Mitch’s loving way that he tries to keep up spirits in such a difficult time, you truly learn what it’s like to live and then to die.

The show stars James Anthony as Morrie. As a member of Actors’ Equity Association for 42 years, he has performed in over 265 productions. Some of you may recognize him from his numerous appearances on the Muny stage. Starring along side Anthony is Andrew Michael Neiman who played Mitch. Andrew is no stranger to St. Louis audiences He was recently seen in “Uncle Vanya: Valiantly Accepting Next Year’s Agony” where he played the title role of Vanya. He has also been on several national theatre tours.

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

Photo by Eric Woolsey

These two actors played so well off each other. The chemistry of the two as they look this journey together just added to the heart-wrenching end of the show. Whether it was Mitch entering the room with the bag of food that Morrie would never eat, or Morrie giving Mitch a lecture about how to live, you can’t help but soak up every word they say.

The set is simple but so inventive. With a piano in the corner and Morrie’s study taking center stage, Cristie Johnson (Scenic Designer) made some incredible choices. And the lighting design, by Michael Sullivan, complimented the set and the show with perfection.

“Be compassionate, and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, the world would be so much a better place.”

This play is a must-see that you don’t want to miss. When you go, be ready to learn. Mr. Anthony uses the role of Morrie, and his words, to truly teach you humility, humanity, and forgiveness in a way I’ve never seen before. So get your tickets now before it’s too late. You can find tickets by clicking here!

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