The Factory Theatre, 7 Eden Street, Newmarket, Auckland

06/06/2014 - 21/06/2014

Production Details

NSC premiere lures Henare 

Newmarket Stage Company (NSC) is excited about securing the exclusive rights to premiere Tuesdays with Morrie in New Zealand. 

The acquisition of Tuesdays with Morrie is further boosted by NSC’s casting of Kiwi icon George Henare to play the lead. Commenting on the stage show, based on the bestselling book that sold 6 million copies, artistic director Adey Ramsel says: “George has always wanted to play the part of Morrie so he jumped at the chance when I offered it to him.” 

Theatre heavyweight Henare adds: “I really enjoyed working with NSC on Educating Rita so I’m back for another dose. I’m also thrilled to be doing another show in Newmarket.” 

Tuesdays with Morrie, which beautifully chronicles a rekindled relationship between a sports journalist and his former college professor, is a coup for NSC who now hold the rights to stage this poignant award-winning production.

Following the overwhelming success of NSC’s debut production Educating Rita, where Henare was also the lead, he will be joined on stage by rising actor, musician and director Jason Te Mete. The latter is renowned for his recent stint as musical director of Okareka Dance Company’s K Rd Strip

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, the play Tuesdays with Morrie deals with the inspiring true story of Albom’s relationship with his mentor, using humour and music to convey the emotional story. 

Ramsel says:  “Many may remember the book as being quite inspirational and heavy but rest assured the play has a much lighter side. We are using music, dance and humour to create a lighter touch, in order to bring this touching story of friendship and respect to the stage.” 

The play is set 16 years after Albom’s graduation from Brandeis University in 1979. Having abandoned his failing career as a musician to become a well-paid journalist for a Detroit newspaper, Albom contacts his beloved college professor Morrie Schwartz after seeing him on the television. Thinking he has been charged with the Morrie’s care every Tuesday, the tables are turned when Albom discovers unexpected insights into the meaning of life, love and friendship. 

Ramsel says: “Tuesdays with Morrie is the second play of many that NSC plans to present in Newmarket. And we hope that in future every day will be a ‘Tuesday’ for Newmarket theatre-goers.” 

Presented by NSC, the NZ premiere of
Tuesdays with Morrie plays from
June 5-21
at The Factory Theatre, 7 Eden St, Newmarket.
No shows Mon.
Book at www.iticket.co.nz  or ph 361 1000.

Morrie Schwartz – George Henare 
Mitch Albom – Jason Te Mete 

Director/Co-Producer – Adey Ramsel 
Co-Producer/Marketing & Publicity – Sharu Delilkan 
Stage Manager – Jessie McCall
Lighting/Sound Design – Scott Thomas
Set Design – Adey Ramsel
Costume Design – Rowena Smith

ASM/Intern – Regan Crummer
Set Builder – Allan Wyatt & Reloved Props
FOH Manager – Carole Fuhrmann
Box Office – Georgia Hodgson

Old ideas given new life

Review by Janet McAllister 09th Jun 2014

I’m pleased I took my 87-year-old Nan to this feelgood adaptation of Mitch Albom’s memoir: it’s as comfortable as an old pair of slippers and warm enough to please the cockles of your heart on a winter’s night.

This is the second Newmarket Stage Company production – so far they specialise in two-handers with famous titles starring George Henare as an academic locking horns with a protege (the first was Educating Rita). [More]


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Matters of life and death

Review by Nik Smythe 08th Jun 2014

Newmarket Stage Company’s sophomore production is highly engaging, thought-provoking, witty and cathartic. Originally written in memoir form by Detroit sports journalist Mitch Albom in 1997, the story and its significance are as universal and timeless as life and death themselves.  In fact, they are the story.

Adapted for stage from his novel with co-playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, Albom narrates his poignant relationship with Morrie Schwartz, his old sociology professor and philosophical mentor at Brandeis University, Massachusetts where he studied in the late 70s.  Their time spent together there is succinctly described in the first ten minutes of the play, as is the subsequent decade and a half during which Albom’s musical aspirations are curtailed by personal tragedy and he falls into his sports writing career. 

These two heavily summarised ‘acts’ provide the background for the definitive story that begins with Mitch’s chance viewing of an edition of Ted Koppel’s Nightline, featuring an interview with Schwartz on the subject of his diagnosed motor neuron disease ‘ALS’.  What is initially intended to be a one-off visit to pay dutiful respects to his favourite tutor develops into the regular weekly trips implied by the title, providing an ultimately transformative experience.

In the role of the author-protagonist, Jason Te Mete portrays a clean-cut, serious young man – not bitter, just rendered emotionally distant by the march of time and the thwarting of his dreams.  Exemplary piano skills befit his character very well, but they’re not over-exploited or even made as central a feature as one might expect from the on-stage presence of a grand piano.

As increasingly ailing, 78 years-young Morrie, George Henare is your classic contrast and sagacious foil to the cynical egocentricity of comparative youth.  Witty aphorisms ever at the ready, the twinkle in his eye never fades even as his pain deepens and motor-functions steadily deteriorate.

The characters’ respective wives seem conspicuously absent, as they are often referred to and discussed but never seen, even in the one scene where Mitch’s wife Janine visits, although she is heard singing on request, in voice-over. 

Both actors’ Massachusetts accents are sufficiently credible to maintain the suspension of disbelief in their real-life characters.  Besides that all-important technical aspect, the masterful quality of the duo’s accomplished, understated performance is strong evidence that the entrepreneurial artistic director of the NSC, Adey Ramsel, has reached full maturity as a theatre director. It surely doesn’t hurt to have such experts in their craft to work with. 

Ramsel’s set design places us unpretentiously in the living room of Morrie’s humble but comfortable every-suburb bungalow.  Comfy armchair, reclining couch, large worn and faded rug, and a glass rear wall with French doors leading out to a just slightly distracting tree that appears to be squished slightly under the conservatory ceiling.  At one point Morrie remarks that the only two things in the room less than fifty years old are his wheelchair and Mitch. 

If there’s one singularly universal topic among all the plethora of issues related to the human condition, it’s that of one’s own mortality.  The one thing we can be sure without a doubt shall come to pass is at the same time encased in the most unanswerable mysteries of our existence: how, when and what next?  The first two are at least a mystery to the luckiest among us.  In terminal illness cases like Morrie’s, the how question is answered bluntly and the probabilities of when dramatically narrowed. 

For the rest of us, life’s one guarantee remains thankfully shrouded in uncertainty, which facilitates the necessary denial that keeps us going in spite of that other rhetorical conundrum – what’s this life for in the first place?  Morrie nails it in one of his many simple aphorisms, a seemingly obvious truism that answers none of the above questions but speaks volumes about how humanity has made it this far: “Everyone knows they’re going to die but no-one believes it.”


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