By Heidi Masek email@example.com
• Life lessons: I was hesitant about watching Tuesdays with Morrie at Yellow Taxi Productions. The last time I saw it, film, Broadway and TV actor James Whitmore played Morrie — the Brandeis professor imparting wisdom while dying from ALS -- and his son James Jr. played Mitch Albom — the sports journalist who wrote a memoir about his visits with his former teacher after a 16-year absence. It was at Peterborough Players.
That said, YTP, did a commendable job delivering Albom’s story. Albom broke his promise to keep in touch with his friend and favorite professor until he spotted Morrie discussing his ALS on Nightline.
David White gave a standout performance in Taking Sides for the Nashua professional company, and anchored this play as Morrie. White portrayed an aging man whose muscles are failing with studied depth. From a moment of seeming exhaustion, he would turn his head and deliver his answer with wit and authority — reminding Mitch that Morrie is still the teacher.
Playing Mitch required restraint and a more subtle range, which suited Doug Chilson better than some of the more overblown characters I’ve seen him play for YTP.
Simple staging and props have been effective for YTP before, and were here. YTP relied on lighting to direct focus and moods.
YTP finally has its own space. While the new black box is tiny, it allowed the audience to clearly see the changes on Morrie’s face as White portrayed his decline at the Sunday, Feb. 15 show. He’s introduced as a very warm, open and smiling gentleman with eyes that twinkle like Santa Claus’. As the ALS progressed, twinkling happened seldom.
At 90 minutes, Tuesdays with Morrie is packed with life lessons from a dying sociology professor — consider bringing tissues. Yellow Taxi Productions presents it Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Feb. 28, at 5 Pine St. Extension in Nashua. Call 791-4558 for tickets, which range in cost from $15 to $25.
• From Jason Robert Brown: Composer Jason Robert Brown has said of his Songs for a New World, “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back,” according to the Acting Loft. It opened off-Broadway in 1995. The Manchester community company presents Songs for a New World, in which songs are connected by theme instead of narrative, Friday, Feb. 20, and Saturday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m., at 516 Pine St. Call 666-5999 for tickets, which cost $10 and $15.
• Discounts at the Palace: Find $15 back balcony tickets for Little Shop of Horrors, next in the Citizens Bank Performing Arts Series of professional musicals at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Students can try for $15 rush tickets. Otherwise, tickets cost between $25 and $40 to see Seymour battle a carnivorous plant. Buy two, and you are eligible to buy a gift certificate at half price for the Hanover Street Chophouse or Red Arrow Diner. The Palace is at 80 Hanover St. Call 668-5588 or see www.palacetheatre.org.
• Together again: Anselmian Abbey Players celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Saint Anselm College troupe with the review “Once a Player, Always a Player,” Saturday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Dana Center, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester (641-7700). Tickets cost $10.