Jay Doolittle Returns for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, Opening March 27

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 20, 2015

Jay Doolittle, at 74, returns to the Roxy for his 62nd production. In a tenure spanning 16 years, he first brought his talent to the fore in 1999’s The Diary of Anne Frank. Jay has performed 60 other roles in Albee, Shakespeare, Miller, Hellman and others, including Professor Morrie Schwartz in Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, a role he has performed in various theatres around the country, a part which has become his signature role.

I feel about Jay’s performance as Morrie much as I do about Leslie Greene’s performance in Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Each offer a somewhat unconventional outward look from what is the inevitable, yet it is an insightful take on the ultimate unknown.

Tuesdays with Morrie opens next Friday, March 27, and runs through April 11, playing Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, with a 2:00pm matinee on Saturday, April 4. It should be seen by anyone who is an aficionado of Mitch Albom or Jay Doolittle’s talents, or simply a lover of good theatre. Alongside Jay, as Mitch Albom, is Matthew Whitfield, currently playing Escalus in Measure for Measure.

Chris Davis’ take on William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is wondrous in that it is a brilliantly performed, colorfully set, fast-paced and perfectly understandable production of one of Shakespeare’s lesser known and far too rarely produced works. But it also has become, by default, a play about the times in which we live, where justice is questioned and laws are not necessarily for all.

The Roxy has had many guest directors, all very fine in their own right. Davis has an advantage, however, in having worked as an actor every summer during his college years at Rhodes in Memphis, so he has seen magic made with little and has a knowledge of the assets and flaws of the Roxy’s space. As I mature, I am eager to pass on the adage “less is more,” and Chris knowing the space and having produced Shakespeare in Memphis on a dime (his dime, no less) makes for an outstanding production.

Measure for Measure plays its final performances tonight at 8:00pm and Saturday, March 21, at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. All tickets are $15.

Many kind souls have given so generously to make Mary Poppins possible. I don’t think the theatre-going public realizes that the whole shebang costs $80,000. “What?” you might ask. But factor in sets, costumes, royalties, actor salaries and flying effects, and one finds oneself annoyed that tickets here are only $25 for adults and $15 for ages 13 and under.

Two fine young actresses from my Saturday class can be seen in productions around town next week. Amy Wyer is performing as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific at West Creek High on March 26, 27 and 28 at 7:00pm. And Allison Ferebee is appearing as Shelby in Northwest High’s production of Steel Magnolias on March 26 and 27 at 7:00pm and March 29 at 2:30pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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