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Theatre Review: Tuesdays With Morrie

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Morrie is a wise old professor who’s had to stop teaching because of Lou Gerhig’s Disease. Early in the play, he gets a surprise visit from a former student, who he hasn’t seen in 16 years.

“You’ll be happy to know that I’m more efficient than I was in college.”

“Eh, why will that make me happy?”
“Well, you know how kids in college slough off.”
“Yeah well, when else are they going to slough off? When they’re airline pilots? Brain surgeons? Slough when you can for as long as you can. Enjoy it!”

Morrie dispenses good advice the way people hand out candy on Halloween night – with a generous smile. Morrie also short-circuits social convention, organizing his own memorial service, so that he can be there.

“I never liked going to funerals, and now I know why. You’ve got to run them yourself. It was very successful. Everybody paid tribute to me, I kept thinking, ‘Boy, Morrie would have liked this.’ And I did!’”

There’s an old saying in the music business that a songwriter can’t miss if he manages to set sad lyrics to an upbeat tune. And that pretty much describes this show. When we first glimpse Morrie, he’s dancing. Soon he gets a cane, then a walker, later a wheelchair. Yet somehow, he always sees a silver lining in the broader picture.

“You only cry over regrets if you live your life the wrong way, chasing after the wrong things. Some tears are healthy."

My only beef with this show is that it’s all a bit too tidy. The nuggets of wisdom keep coming, in neat little sound bites. The actual interplay between life and death is not often this smooth. But veteran actor David Silberman is so winning as the wise professor that I’ll gladly recommend this two-actor show. And Aaron Wilton, playing the younger straight man, does OK, too. 

(music out)

"Tuesdays with Morrie" continues through February 28th at the Sacramento Theatre Company.
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