In TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, Jay Doolittle Celebrates 55 Years of “A Life in the Theatre”

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on April 10, 2015

I never saw Maria Callas perform Tosca.  I’ve seen a video, but only of the second act.  However, I did see Marie Collier perform Tosca in Chicago.  Miss Collier had replaced an indisposed Callas at London’s Covent Garden, so seeing her performance was not so far removed from seeing a shadow of a statue of a man — or, rather, Callas once removed.  It was as close to the real thing as I ever got.

Jay Doolittle, at 74, is celebrating fifty-five years of “a life in the theatre” here with us at the Roxy.  Jay plays Morrie for us in Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie for two final performances, tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) at 8:00pm.

In his 55-year career, he has shared the stage with the likes of Anthony Perkins, Herbert Marshall, Lloyd Bridges, Imogene Coca, Louis Jourdan, David Wayne, Faye Emerson, Ann Sothern, Joan Blondell, Dana Andrews and Joan Hackett — legions of legends of the theatre, some known to us, some now forgotten, but who all left their mark on Jay.

The energy and art of their performances does not dissipate.  It lingers, attaches to your subconscious and becomes a part of you.  You breathe it in, feel it, and are changed by it in miniscule ways.  If you happen to be an artist or actor yourself, you absorb the indescribable “it,” you steal it, and you make it your own.  It becomes you like a well-tailored suit.  So, in seeing Jay, you are experiencing the spirit of all those stars past whose glow never fades.  Like Jay as Morrie, it goes on forever.

Something I never miss and am grateful to have within walking distance of my home is the annual opera at APSU.  This year’s, Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio (The Marriage Contract), promises to be a Sunday afternoon well-spent.  No, it’s not the Met — but, unlike the Met, the APSU Opera has a youthful exuberance which covers a multitude of imperfections, if any can ever be spotted.  The singers are always talented, well-prepared and devoted to the music.  I am always moved by their youth, talent and energy which often brings me to tears.  Go, and bring a friend, as these young aspirants deserve an audience.  Always artfully directed by Lisa Conklin-Bishop, performances are at 7:30pm this Saturday, April 11, and at 3:00pm this Sunday, April 12, at APSU’s George and Sharon Mabry Concert Hall.

Next Friday, April 17, in celebration of the 13th anniversary of Rivers & Spires, the Roxy Regional Theatre will be offering $13 tickets to the remainder of our season, which includes Mary Poppins, The 39 Steps and The Music Man.  This offer can only be redeemed between the hours of 9:00am and 2:00pm on April 17, either in person at the box office or by phone at (931) 645-7699.  Special events are excluded and all sales are final, so tickets purchased at this time cannot be exchanged or refunded.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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