PHOTO BY JOEL ABBOTT
The thought is that giving of yourself, your time and talents, to others is rewarding for both the giver and the receiver. Mark Twain is credited with saying:
"the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." For Mitch Albom, that realization was brought home to him when he reconnected with a special professor at Brandeis University, Morrie Schwartz, after a sixteen year absence. His sociology teacher had been a mentor to Albom and when Albom graduated he promised to keep in touch. He didn't and the years passed. Now a chance sighting of his old friend on the Ted Koppel television show brings Mitch to Morrie's door to visit him as he battles with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and makes peace with his impending death.
For a poignant and meaningful conversation, seize this unique opportunity for wonderful theater by listening in on "Tuesdays with Morrie," written by Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, and being offered at the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford until Sunday, October 18. Mitch is our narrator,
explaining about how his career as a jazz musician morphed into a profession as a sports writer, now housed in Detroit, and why he is flying every Tuesday to visit Morrie in his Massachusetts home.
This man whom Mitch calls "coach" is still providing life lessons, even though his thirty years as a teacher are over. As Morrie faces death, he wants Mitch to discover the wonders of love, work. aging, family, community, forgiveness and even death. His muscles may be degenerating but his mind is sharp. What starts as a one time visit of an hour quickly changes into a commitment to come every week...until the end.
Morrie poses difficult questions to Mitch: Are you at peace with yourself? Are you as human as you can be? The message is clear that every day is a gift, that's why they call it the present. Morrie posits that, like the Buddhists, there is a little bird on his shoulder that asks him every day if he is ready, ready for death. Mitch learns that the truth that when you learn how to die, that is when you learn how to live. Morrie urges Mitch to go after life and embrace it, a lesson we can all profit from.
Chris Richards is a wonderfully sensitive Mitch, a man who cares deeply and is open to expanding his heart in meaningful ways. Gannon McHale is exceptional as the transitional professor facing the most important class in his life, and facing it with wisdom and humor and courage. We literally see
his disintegration in front of us, sensing his pain and trying to hold him in a healing hug.
For tickets ($22.50-35.00), call Playhouse on Park at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at www.PlayhouseOnPark.org. Performances are Tuesday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Watch for the next Comedy Night, promising 90 minutes of laughter, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., ($15) on Saturday, October 31 and Wednesday, November 25.
Come discover, like Mitch, that without love, we're birds with broken wings and we need to forgive everyone for everything. Also learn what Morrie asks for as extra credit.