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Two Fine Actors Portray Two Immensely Interesting Characters in JTP’s Tuesdays with Morrie

John Honeycutt (left) and Jerry Sipp star in <em>Tuesdays with Morrie</em> (photo by Valerie Taylor)

John Honeycutt (left) and Jerry Sipp star in Tuesdays with Morrie (photo by Valerie Taylor)

The Justice Theater Project produces plays that point up relevant social issues. In the Triangle, the plight of our beloved Larry Stogner of WTVD, one year into the debilitating, progressive and incurable affliction amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, resonates in this production. The play was developed from Mitch Albom’s 1997 memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson, which has been called the most successful memoir ever, and tells of his relationship with a college professor from Brandeis University with whom he re-connected after more than a decade. Professor Morrie Schwartz had come down with ALS by then.

Those who have seen Larry Stogner recently may easily understand why the symptomatic slurring of speech with those stricken with ALS was abjured in this show to allow the understanding and appreciation of Morrie’s quick mind, expansive wit, and pinpoint wisdom.

The Justice Theater Project’s production of Tuesdays with Morrie is directed by Andy Hayworth. He chose to fashion the room into full arena style, giving the two performers ample space to move, and to create the kind of intimacy this show demands. We are disappointed with one decision, which was to nestle Morrie too deeply into one corner for too long, forcing two banks of audience to crane their necks to try see him at dramatically important times.

The minimalist set works very well, allowing smooth moving of furniture; the sound cues are perfect and natural; and the general technical support is superb.

Jerry Sipp plays Mitch Albom, and does a wonderful job, transitioning from caring friend to success-driven sports writer and back. His reaction to being told it is not an iced tea container he’s holding, but a urine beaker, is authentic. Sipp brings a genuine sincerity to the part.

Morrie Schwartz is portrayed by John Honeycutt, with his usual flair and commitment to his character, giving Morrie the depth of love and mentorship at the art of living, raising the question of personal humanity solemnly, and bringing out the wit of his character.

Two fine actors portray two immensely interesting characters as they scramble through the jungle of dying with dignity, and being present during that final heroic act. This show begs to be seen.

SECOND OPINION: Feb. 9th Raleigh, NC Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud: click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2016/02/jerry-sipp-and-john-honeycutts-performances-in-jtps-tuesdays-with-morrie-touch-our-souls/.

The Justice Theater Project presents TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE at 8 p.m. Feb. 12 and 13, 3 p.m. Feb. 14, 9:30 a.m. Feb. 16, 8 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20, and 3 p.m. Feb. 21 in Clare Hall at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi, 11401 Leesville Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27613.

TICKETS: $22 ($10 students and $17 seniors, and active-duty military personnel), except $14 per person for groups of 10 or more. SHOW: http://www.thejusticetheaterproject.org/tuesdays-with-morrie/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/502719359931818/.

BOX OFFICE: 919/264-7089, thejusticetheaterproject@gmail.com, or https://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://www.thejusticetheaterproject.org/tuesdays-with-morrie/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/502719359931818/.

PRESENTER: http://thejusticetheaterproject.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Justice-Theater-Project/29290766458.

VENUE: http://stfrancisraleigh.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Catholic-Community-of-St-Francis-of-Assisi/172774212838785.

DIRECTIONS/MAPS: http://stfrancisraleigh.org/maps/.

NOTE 1: At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13th, The Justice Theater Projects have a preshow discussion of “Short Stories: Perspective and Meanings.” Bring a bag dinner.

NOTE 2:At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14th, there will be FREE childcare for children preregistered via thejusticetheaterproject@gmail.com.

NOTE 3:There will be a $14-per-person 9:30 a.m. “Over 55” performance, with post-show discussion with the cast on Tuesday, Feb. 16th.

NOTE 4: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio describe the 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20th, performance; and there will be FREE admission for visually impaired patrons using audio equipment.

OTHER LINKS:

Morrie Schwartz (Brandeis University sociology professor and author, 1916-95): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morrie_Schwartz (Wikipedia).

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson (1997 memoir): http://www.mitchalbom.com/books/tuesdays-with-morrie/(author’s website), http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/1588/tuesdays-with-morrie-by-mitch-albom/(Random House), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuesdays_with_Morrie(Wikipedia).

The Memoir: https://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Mitch Albom: http://mitchalbom.com/(official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/14310(Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0207805/(Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Albom (Wikipedia).

Tuesdays with Morrie (2002 Off-Broadway play): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3809 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.mitchalbom.com/theater/#tuesdays(author’s website), and http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/1820 (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

The Script: https://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/study-guides/tuesdays-with-morrie-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

Tuesdays with Morrie (1999 TV movie): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0207805/(Internet Movie Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuesdays_with_Morrie_(film)(Wikipedia).

Jeffrey Hatcher: http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/109903(Internet Broadway Database), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3734(Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0368774/(Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Hatcher(Wikipedia).

Andy Hayworth (Cary director): https://www.facebook.com/thehayworth (Facebook page) and https://twitter.com/thehayworth (Facebook page).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews