TUESDAYS with Morrie is Mitch Albom’s memoir. It’s a memorable book that’s sold over 14 million copies, and inspires passion among its fans: it’s the kind of book that gets passed around by readers who take it wholly into their hearts. It’s even one of those rare books that sometimes gets cited as ‘life changing’.

It’s thus a natural progression that the book would then be made into a film and or play. It’s a great opportunity, but also a risk: simply put, books held dear to a large readership need to be handled carefully when being transferred to stage or screen, to avoid alienating the core audience.

Fortunately, author Mitch Albom adapted the novel for the stage, in collaboration with established screen and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, and the result is a stage version of Tuesdays with Morrie that is true, equal and as wonderful as the original book.

So why has Tuesdays with Morrie got such a passionate fanbase? Largely because Albom is a very talented writer. Unusually, he started off as a sports journalist before turning his hand to fiction – books as well as plays – and this breadth of experience serves him well.

Morrie Schwartz was a real person, a retired sociology professor; when the play starts he is suffering from ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), and is in the last months of his life. This said, the story doesn’t precisely revolve around his impending death: it’s more about living, and lessons on how to live well.

It’s also funny. Really funny. Mitch Albom decided to write the experience as a memoir to earn money to pay the extensive bills Morrie had incurred through his illness. Not only could he cover the bills with his book royalties but, inspired by Morrie’s teachings, he went on to use the money to set up several charities.

Tuesdays with Morrie is also a play about mentors: people that can touch our lives and enhance our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. While the loss of a mentor is mourned, the play never becomes mawkish and sentimental. The focus remains the relationship between the two men, and the universal truths that Morrie wants to pass on to his younger friend.

With a cast of just two, there’s a strong focus on the acting. Stephen Brown (Morrie) and Rob Edwards (Mitch) are utterly convincing, while deft, sensitive direction from David Kirk seals this as a classic production, one not to be missed. Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, is on from Monday, May 6th to Saturday. May 11th.

One Morrie Schwartz maxim, “Giving makes me feel like I’m living”, leads us to a call for volunteers at the Ilkley Playhouse. Theatres enhance communities in many ways: they bring joy, drama, entertainment and education; they can provide distraction or escape; or offer a creative sanctuary and community with like-minded people.

Volunteers are at the heart of what we do, and our doors are always open to new volunteers. There are may ways to become involved: front-of-house roles such as bar work and selling programmes; set design and building; props; costumes; lighting and sound; stage management; photography and publicity; script reading… and, of course, acting and directing!

Volunteering can be flexible and no experience is necessary, as full training is given. If a Front of House role is for you then we have a training evening on Wednesday, May 15th at 7pm. To find out more, please contact us at info@ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk or on 01943 609539.

Tuesdays with Morrie is in the Wildman studio from Monday, May 6th until Saturday, May 11th. You can call the box office for tickets (at the above number) or book online at www.ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk

by Claire Emmott