TISCH MILLS, Wis. (WFRV)
Everyone is adjusting because of the coronavirus COVID-19 situation.
We are forced into new situations in life.
A play filled with lessons in life arrived recently just as a huge wave of cancellations was cresting and about to engulf activities for most everybody.
On the day that The Forst Inn Arts Collective production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” opened Saturday, March 14, it was still okay for groups of 50 to gather, and that’s about as many people who were present. The way things were going in other states, though, there was a strong inkling stricter rules would come into place.
The atmosphere in the playhouse was dramatic, like being on the cusp of change – whatever that might be.
Morrie Schwartz probably would have some advice about matters with the coronavirus COVID-19, like, “Cool it, roll with the flow.”
Indeed, in a few days, I would be recording my next on-air Critic at Large segment – for today, Sunday, March 22 – by way of my computer at home rather than in the WFRV-TV studio. What you are reading here is essentially the script for that segment.
What I faced, along with everybody in that audience, was not what Morrie Schwartz is caught up in in the play.
Morrie Schwartz is living life as best he can as he is dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the slowly debilitating ALS.
Like the coronavirus COVID-19, “Tuesdays with Morrie” is all about mortality.
In that theater that night, everyone’s mind was on mortality in two ways – Morrie Schwartz’s and his or hers in the matter of COVID-19.
It was an interesting experience, to say the least.
The Forst Inn Arts Collective’s excellent production was supposed to continue this week and next but now has been put off because of restrictions. The new dates are May 22-23 and 29-31.
In the production, local actors with notable experience hit a rhythm on the homey stage of the crossroads theater in the midst of farmland.
William Fricke portrays Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor who is full of wisdom.
Zachary Lulloff portrays Mitch Albom, a super-busy and headstrong sports columnist who is suddenly changed.
Mitch Albom turned his visits with his favorite professor into a book that sold a whopping 14 million copies 20 years ago.
It took the play version all this time to come to Northeastern Wisconsin.
The opening night audience was held in the grip of Morrie Schwartz was saying and what Mitch Albom was learning in part because the story is from real life.
Also shrouding the situation was news about the coronavirus COVID-19 that was getting more chilling by the day.
The audience hung on such words as these from Morrie Schwartz: “The most important thing is life is learn how to give out love, and let it come in.”
Theater is a wonderful thing, and “Tuesdays with Morrie” is one of its wonderful plays.
Circumstance added to the impact of the production on opening night in the cabaret-style theater that has come back to life.
The planned performances in late May will add to the historic theater’s legacy.