Peter Moore hasn’t read the book Tuesdays With Morrie, and given that more than 14 million copies have been sold, that may seem a hard feat to pull off. But Moore avoiding the 20-year-old memoir has been by design.
Moore, an Ivey Award-winning theater director, will be directing the stage adaptation of Mitch Albom’s best-selling book at the Sabes JCC from Feb. 8-25, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
“It helps me (having not read it) because all I have to deal with is the play,” Moore said. “It doesn’t matter what was left out or anything like that. You can’t assume an audience will have read the book it’s adapted from. I approach an adaptation like it’s an original work.”
The book was adapted for the stage by Albom and renowned playwright and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher. It details the story of the relationship between sportswriter Mitch, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch re-connects with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a delightful and moving last class in the meaning of life.
“It’s warm and funny and sad and joyful all at the same time,” Moore said. “It’s a real affirmation of life and Jewish values: Living in a world and giving something back to the world we’re living in. That heart and humanity is important.”
The production’s roots are firmly based in the Twin Cities. Besides Moore, who has directed shows at the Guthrie and Park Square theaters, Morrie is played by Gabe Angieri, and Mitch by Brandon Ewald, two popular local actors especially known for their work at Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul. Moore is also a local favorite who counts the Guthrie and Park Square among his credits.
“Even though the play isn’t about being Jewish, both characters are and the philosophies expressed are,” Moore said. “I think it’s a great adaptation. It’s funny and moving without being overly sentimental. It earns its tears.”
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE runs Feb. 8-25, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. All performances are at the Sabes JCC (4330 Cedar Lake Road, St Louis Park). Tickets are just $20. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or go to brownpapertickets.com
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