By: Sylvia Bosco
Sierra Madre, California (The Hollywood Times) – 3/4/2019 – The Sierra Madre Playhouse presents Tuesdays with Morrie directed by L. Flint Esquerra, a touching play by Jeffrey Hatcher based off the best-selling memoir with the same name written by Mitch
A special Pay What You Can performance of Tuesdays with Morrie on Monday, March 18, 2019 at Sierra Madre Playhouse will take place at SEVEN p.m. It had previously been announced for 8:00 p.m.
The story follows the untimely reunion of Morrie Schwartz portrayed by Larry Eisenberg, and Mitch Albom played by Jackson Kendall.
Mitch Albom, on his graduation day from Brandeis University, promises to keep in touch with his professor Morrie Schwartz. Years go by and Mitch becomes a successful sports journalist but neglects to hold up his pledge to Morrie. One night he sees Morrie on a television show Nightline discussing his challenges from Lou Gehrig’s disease and instantly jumpstarts Mitch into finding and reconnecting with his old professor. Mitch commits to that reconnection by flying in to spend time with him every Tuesday until his departure from the Earth.
It is on those Tuesdays where the two build a beautiful, ever growing relationship, both learning from each other. Mitch eventually lets Morrie break down his walls and ultimately discovers his truth. Morrie teaches Mitch to be patient, brave, and to not be afraid. But the relationship is a two way street, in which Mitch also teaches Morrie to be emotionally available.
The story gets heavy after a while but Eisenberg and Kendall make sure to portray these characters as real as possible, without overdramatizing and without creating a melodrama. Eisenberg captures the physicality of Lou Gehrig’s disease so eloquently. It’s powerful enough so that the audience can understand its nuances and tenderly empathize with Mitch. The play is set in Morrie’s study room where Mitch visits him every week, and that room feels like home. Set designer Amanda Knehans and lighting designer Derek Jones did an excellent job in creating an environment that is warm, uplifting, and relaxed. For the time, the audience forgets that Morrie is reaching the end of his life. Esquerra utilizes the set by placing a destination on stage left and at the staircase on stage right for Mitch to go to for his monologues. It is rewarding during those moments of insight.
Tuesdays with Morrie guides the audience through a journey that is disguised as a course in the meaning of life. It is a profound play that covers the kind of issues that we all can relate to and must come to terms with at any stage of life. Everyone learns from Morrie.
The play runs through Sunday March 31. Don’t miss your opportunity to see this play while it is here. Learn more information on ticketing at www.sierramadreplayhouse.org
The special performance on Monday, March 18 at SEVEN p.m. is Pay What You Can.
Other performances are available on Fridays at 8:00, Saturdays at 8:00, and Sundays at 2:30. There is no performance on March 17 (the date of the city of Sierra Madre’s annual Wistaria Festival). Show closes on March 31. Prices for regular performances are $40; Seniors (65+) $36; Youth (to age 21) $20.
LARRY EISENBERG (Morrie) is an Actor, Writer, and Director. He wrote and directed the short film, “David Proshker,” which has been broadcast on KCET and scripted the feature film, “Fish Don’t Blink,” starring Lea Thompson. Originally from New Jersey, he first came to California to play Antonio in Comedy of Errors with the LA Free Shakespeare Company. Some of his favorite roles have included Kit Carson in Time of Your Life, opposite Lonny Chapman, Edgar in King Lear opposite George Coulouris and the Conductor in the Los Angeles premiere of Terence McNally’s Prelude and Liebestod. He currently serves as one of two Co-Artistic Directors at the Lonny Chapman Group repertory Theatre.
Jackson Kendall (Mitch) is so happy to be back at SMP! He is incredibly grateful to be a part of this wonderful show and to be working with such amazing talents as Larry and Flint. Jackson has been seen at SMP as Ralph in A Christmas Story (2017 & 2018), Jimin The Glass Menagerie, Homer in Charlotte’s Web, and in numerous Off the Page readings. Other recent credits include Ash in Evil Dead: The Musical, Zach in A Self Help Guide to Killing Your Boss (originated, LATC), and Jake in Snowed Inn (originated, El Portal). He is also the co-founder and vice president of BoomStick Theater. For news and information please visit jacksoncskendall.com and boomsticktheater.com. As always – thanks to my parents, Bruce and Sara, for their incredible support; my dog Delta for reminding me that treats are the most important thing in life; and a huge thankyou to Christian Lebano, Estelle Campbell, and the entire SMP family for giving me a theater home away from home.
Based on the Book by Mitch Albom, “Tuesdays with Morrie”
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom
Directed by L. Flint Esquerra
Set Designer – Amanda Knehans
Costume Design – Michael Mullen
Lighting Design by Derek Jones
Sound Design – Chris Moscatiello
Production Manager – Owen Lewis
Stage Manager – Elizabeth Eichler
About Sierra Madre Playhouse
Our Mission is to foster an appreciation of live performance in people of all ages and backgrounds by illuminating the diversity of the American experience. Our Vision is to showcase the power of live theater to engage, connect and bring people together.
The Sierra Madre Playhouse has evolved from a theatrical heritage that stretches back to the days when the Sierra Madre was just a tiny village. Residents presented dramas and musicals as early as the 1800s in their homes, in the Town Hall, and in the Woman’s Club.