THEATER AWARDS NIGHT: Senior Rep wins a Roundtable Award for outstanding production
One of the biggest Roundtable Award winners earlier tonight was Senior Repertory of Ohio Theatre Company's production of Tuesdays with Morrie.
The area premiere, last February at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, was one of two 2008 productions voted by the Theatre Roundtable as one of the year's outstanding productions - and, as mentioned in an earlier blog entry, also was recognized in the individual-acting category for Frank Barnhart and Ron Nocks' performances in the area premiere of the two-actor play..
(PHOTO: Frank A. Barnhart, left, as a writer, and Ronald E. Nocks as Morrie in February 2008 in Senior Repertory of Ohio's Tuesdays with Morrie Credit: Kyle Robertson, Dispatch)
To bring back memories of this superior production, here are excerpts from my February 27, 2008 Dispatch review:
"Central Ohio theatergoers should give SRO Theatre Company welcome-back hugs for Tuesdays With Morrie.
After more than a year's hiatus, the senior-theater troupe has returned with a broadly satisfying production.
Director Karen Clark-Carpenter mostly avoids gratuitous flourishes in an intimate staging of the true story of sportswriter Mitch Albom's friendship with Morrie Schwartz in the final seasons of the professor's battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Because of its concise episodes and directness, Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher's off-Broadway version of Albom's best-selling book stands or falls on the power of two actors.
With Ronald Nocks as Morrie and Frank Barnhart as Mitch, Morrie's former student, the central Ohio premiere of the touching, amusing play stands tall.
At Friday's opening in the Columbus Performing Arts Center, two of central Ohio's most accomplished actors filled the stage with gentle humor and wisdom about retaining a zest for life amid loss.
Nocks starts with the easier role, grabbing surefire moments of twinkled charm or gruff laughter, but his dramatic arc becomes more challenging as Morrie becomes progressively immobilized by degeneration. As the one-act builds to emotional peaks, the veteran actor achieves what might be a career best with compelling subtlety.
Meanwhile, Barnhart begins with a less sympathetic role, although I found it easy to identify with his harried journalist. As Mitch is reminded by his mentor about the power of love and friendship -- more through example than words -- Barnhart registers those insights with self-deprecating and often painful honesty.
Both actors command the stage, often with fresh or nuanced takes on material that in less mature hands might easily become too sentimental, melodramatic or predictable.
From finding forgiveness to letting go, many things can be learned by sharing Tuesdays with Nocks and Barnhart.
The two actors weave a powerful spell in an evocative memory play that sheds light on what really matters."