TUESDAY'S WITH MORRIE

THE "MORRIE" "FIASCO"

Actually, in the long run, "Morrie's" audience attendance (myself included) ended up being higher than originally projected, thank GOD.  Below are some of my comments on this wonderful show, and some of the unbelievable events that transpired before, during and after its' run:

 



Those of you who live nearby, or have a means to get to RTC, DO NOT miss this
show, it is VERY SPECIAL!!!  I saw the matinee this past Sunday (7/3/05) and it is 
a truly beautiful piece of theatre!  For more details and articles on this show, check
out my page for Joseph!

 

***UPDATE 6/30/05:***

A concerned Rubicon Supporter wrote this letter published in the Ventura County Star and posted on insidevc.com today:

http://www1.venturacountystar.com/vcs/opinion/article/0,1375,VCS_125_3892421,00.html

Your letters: West county

June 30, 2005

Threat to 'Tuesdays'

I write for the sole purpose of telling the community of a treasure we have right here in our backyard. It's called the Rubicon Theater, where an excellent production of "Tuesdays With Morrie" is playing. It will run through July 18, but it cannot be publicized, which cuts down dramatically on attendance.

The reason for no publicity seems contradictory to me. Our community theater contracted players, got the rights to the play and did everything by the books. Then, a national company was formed afterward that will visit the Los Angeles area this summer. They called our production and insisted they stop this play -- after all was finished and the play had begun! Unreasonable?

I think so! After many discussions, the compromise of "no advertising" was agreed upon.

Since I am simply a season subscriber to the Rubicon and am not bound by these agreed-upon rules, I want to tell everyone this is by far the very best production of "Tuesdays With Morrie" we have seen. I encourage all in our community to support this and all of the productions.

Doesn't it seem to contradict the idea of promoting public theater when these things happen? Our area needs this and all local theater. Please support it.

-- Arlene Broslow, Oxnard

I spoke with Joseph Fuqua about this after the 7/3 matinee of "Morrie".  The letter is basically accurate, however, it's not just the advertising "Morrie" can't have.  It can't have any press at all, meaning no reviewers. Now, the matinee I saw was almost sold out, and that's a good thing, BUT, it has to fight for it's audiences. This is a BEAUTIFUL piece of theatre. A very touching, funny, lovely show. Joseph, Harold and Director Jenny Sullivan have all worked VERY HARD to give Ventura, and anyone who can get there, this wonderful production. I IMPLORE you to go see this show. Help them fight back against this "no press" clause and give them the audience they so richly deserve. "Morrie" plays through July 17th.

UPDATE 7/21/05:

Colleen Cason's article - written after the show closed:

http://www1.venturacountystar.com/vcs/ve/article/0,1375,VCS_251_3942949,00.html

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Play put Rubicon in a difficult legal situation

By Colleen Cason, ccason@VenturaCountyStar.com
July 21, 2005

The Rubicon Theatre Company had cast the actors for its production of "Tuesdays with Morrie."

The troupe named a director, created a set and alerted the media.

Indeed, in the weeks before the play's scheduled June 16 opening curtain, the Ventura company had everything in place.

Everything, that is, but the legal right to stage the Jeffrey Hatcher-Mitch Albom play, according to representatives of playwright Albom and the William Morris Agency.

Only through an unusual, last-minute agreement between the 207-seat Rubicon and New York-based entertainment powerhouse William Morris did the play run legally through its final curtain Sunday.

But that pact -- powered together two days before the premiere -- contained a rare provision: The Rubicon was forbidden from publicizing the production.

In trying to control media coverage and still fill the seats in the East Main Street venue, varying stories emerged from the troupe about how the respected, seven-year-old regional theater found itself in this precarious position.

Staging a production without the rights would make the company subject to civil litigation, according to Donald Farber, a New York attorney specializing in theatrical law.

Karyl Lynn Burns, the Rubicon's co-founder, said she thought permission had been secured three months before the opening of the autobiographical play about Detroit columnist Albom's weekly visits with his dying mentor. She learned the troupe did not have the rights during a telephone conversation with a William Morris agent a few days before the show was to open, Burns said.

"We absolutely believed we had the rights," she said.

When asked by The Star to show "Morrie" production-related contracts, Burns declined.

Burns explained in a conversation with The Star's editor, Joe Howry, in June that William Morris had pulled the rights at the eleventh hour because a national touring company was in negotiations to stage the play in Los Angeles with "Barney Miller" star Hal Linden in the lead role.

Jack Tantleff, who handled the matter for the William Morris Agency, would not comment on the record about its dealings with the Rubicon on this production.

Burns, a veteran of local repertory, said the process of obtaining the rights to "Morrie" was unlike that for other Rubicon productions.

"We thought it was a more casual agreement," she said.

Casual is not a word Paul Hough, director of production for the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, would use to describe the contract his troupe inked for its just-finished run of "Tuesdays with Morrie".

That contract, said Hough, gave Albom approval over the choice of actors and of certain crew members.

Albom did approve the casting and was in frequent contact with Hough, even returning phone calls during station breaks of Albom's radio show.

The Rubicon had no contact with Albom during casting or rehearsals, Burns said.

And that is telling, said Albom's literary agent, David Black. "Mitch didn't know anything about this (the Rubicon) production before it opened."

"His contracts always specify he has these kinds of approvals, and he always exercises them," Black said.

Theatrical contracts vary widely, according to attorney Farber, and they do often contain clauses forcing smaller theaters to yield their rights if a national company hits town.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre encountered just this situation with "Tuesdays with Morrie", according to Jane Robison, the company's executive director.

Robison received tentative approval to stage "Morrie" at the 600-seat Indianapolis theater. But when she sought a contract for the rights in April of this year, she was told her run -- scheduled to close at the end of December 2005 -- would compete with the Broadway Across America national tour coming into a larger Indianapolis venue on Jan. 17, 2006.

She was forced to substitute another play but had received several months notice.

In her 20 years in the theater business, Robison said, she had never heard of a company having its rights yanked within days of opening.

By all accounts, the no-publicity deal struck between William Morris and the Rubicon also is unusual.

To hold up her end of this bargain, Burns approached Star Editor Howry and asked him not to send a reviewer to the play. The Star reviews most Rubicon productions.

"Karyl Lynn told me the shutdown of this production could bankrupt the Rubicon," Howry said of a discussion held in his office the day before the play's June 18 premiere.

Because the theater is a Ventura County cultural resource, Howry agreed not to review the play.

Burns later declined to give the estimated monetary loss to the troupe had "Morrie" gone dark.

In addition, The Star is a sponsor of the Rubicon. The newspaper provides advertising space to the troupe in exchange for promotional tie-ins, according to Monica White, The Star's director of marketing.

Despite the no-publicity pledge, ads for the Rubicon's production of "Morrie" ran in the Star 19 times during the play's run, White said.

Burns, who is rehearsing her one-woman show "Shirley Valentine," scheduled to open Aug. 18, said she forgot to cancel the ads.

She did write a script for actor Harold Gould to deliver to audiences after several performances of "Morrie."

The character actor, who appeared in the film "Freaky Friday" and on the TV sitcom "Rhoda," encouraged theatergoers to spread the news about the production by word of mouth, according to patron Arlene Broslow.

As Broslow recalls Gould's words, he said the Rubicon had bought the rights and met all legal requirements, but a national touring company eyeing a Los Angeles run wanted this staging of "Morrie" shuttered days before its opening. He then explained the no-publicity pact.

"We in the audience were dumbfounded," Broslow said. "As good as this production was, the people who held the rights were going to shut it down before it even opened."

Despite the lack of reviews, the play drew larger audiences than projected, according to Burns.

Claire Bowman, chairwoman of the Rubicon's board of directors, is grateful to William Morris for allowing the production to be seen by county theatergoers.

"Because of incorrect assumptions on our part, a delicate situation arose," Bowman said in a written statement.

"The rights holders responded in the spirit of the play to allow us the opportunity to present what was a moving, beautiful and comforting experience for several thousand local audience members," she added.

Known for its hardball dealings on behalf its roster of A-list clients, William Morris is cast against type in this scenario -- actually showing its softer side.

"They were generous in finding a compromise," Burns said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Albom's agent, Black.

"What happened here is like the play 'Tuesdays with Morrie" itself. It's about people being decent to each other."

 



From ReviewPlays.com

http://www.reviewplays.com/tuesmorrie.htm

RUBICON THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS

THE THIRD PRODUCTION OF THE 2005 INTERIM SEASON…

 

                 From the internationally-acclaimed best-selling book 

    Harold Gould       Joseph Fuqua           

          TUESDAYS

         WITH MORRIE

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom

Based on the book by Mitch Albom

 

Directed by Jenny Sullivan

 

Limited Engagement opens Saturday, June 18

at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura !

 

“I was unprepared for how moving and powerful Tuesdays with Morrie turned out to be. On this ground, the flowers of humanity grow.”    New York Post

 

June 1, 2005 Ventura …Rubicon Theatre Company presents the third production of the company’s 2005 Season, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom (based on the book by Mitch Albom).  Directed by Rubicon Artistic Director Jenny Sullivan (Art, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Rainmanker), TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE reunites Sullivan with actors Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua who starred together in Rubicon’s critically acclaimed production of Old Wicked Songs.  TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE opens Saturday, June 18 and plays through Sunday, July 17 at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 East Main St. in Ventura ’s Downtown Cultural District.  Low-cost previews are scheduled for June 16 and 17.      

This autobiographical story was on The New York Times Bestseller List for more than four years with more than 5 million copies sold.  It also inspired an Emmy Award-winning television movie presented by Oprah Winfrey. Tuesdays with Morrie follows a successful sports journalist who is driven solely by his career, until he learns that a former college professor is battling Lou Gehrig's disease. The student and teacher are reunited, and what begins as a quick visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and an unforgettable and astonishing lesson on the meaning of life.

“We are honored to have Harold Gould back on our stage in the role of Morrie.  Morrie is such a wise, funny and charming character, and Hal is perfect for the part.  From the first moment we saw Hal onstage – in an astonishing performance of King Lear – we dreamed of having him work at Rubicon.  To us, he is one of the greatest stage actors our time.  Hal and Joseph have a special chemistry and a wonderful relationship, similar in some ways to that of the two characters.  Their friendship serves to deepen their work onstage in this production,” says Rubicon Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns.  “We know our audiences are going to be moved in unexpected ways by this enlightening and life-affirming play!” 

 

About Director Jenny Sullian

JENNY SULLIVAN (Director) is an Artistic Associate at Rubicon, where her credits include Happy Days with Robin Pearson Rose in the company’s West Coast BeckettFest; Art with Cliff DeYoung, Joseph Fuqua and Bruce Weitz; Dancing at Lughnasa with Susan Clark, Bonnie Franklin and Stephanie Zimbalist; Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua; The Rainmaker with Stephanie Zimbalist; The Little Foxes with Linda Purl; two casts of Ancestral Voices with Ed Asner, Tony Franciosa, Mariette Hartley, Michael Learned, Joseph Fuqua and Joe Spano; and Love Letters with Jack Lemmon and Felicia Farr. Jenny was Associate Director for the L.A. production of The Vagina Monologues. Also in L.A., Jenny directed premieres of Ad Wars at the Court and Tiffany theatres with David Dukes, Stephanie Zimbalist and John Bennett Perry; The Cat’s Meow with Joseph Fuqua at the Coast Playhouse and Matrix theatres; and Against the Glass at the Court Theatre.  

Jenny directed the world premiere of The Baby Dance with Linda Purl and Stephanie Zimbalist at the Pasadena Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics’ Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Theatre Off-Broadway. In her six seasons at Williamstown, Jenny directed MACS (A Macaroni Requiem), Defying Gravity, Hotel Oubliette, Dirt and The Ferry Back. Her regional credits include The Elephant Man for San Jose Rep, Listen for Wings at Access Theatre, and Mother Earth/Father Sky and The Shadow Box at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara . Jenny directed radio plays for “The Play’s the Thing” Boston and LA TheatreWorks. Her film credits include “Access All Areas” and “The Next Best Thing” (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry). Rubicon produced the World Premiere of Jenny’s play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late John Ritter in 2001. The production subsequently played at the Court Theatre in L.A.

 

Cast and Design Team

HAROLD GOULD (Morrie) has received recognition on Broadway for his roles in such plays as John Guare’s House of Blue Leaves, Neil Simon’s Fools, Jules Feiffer’s Grown Ups, and Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase. In L.A. , he performed his one man show Freud and won a Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award for his role as Ezra Pound in Incommunicado.  At various Shakespeare festivals, Harold has performed leading roles in King Lear, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and Merchant of Venice . He has previously appeared at Rubicon in Old Wicked Songs and Defying Gravity. His impressive list of films includes “The Sting,” “Silent Movie,” “Love and Death,” “The Front Page,” “Seems Like Old Times,” “Patch Adams,” “Stuart Little” and most recently “Freaky Friday.” He has received the ACE Cable TV award for his role in Ray Bradbury’s “To the Chicago Abyss”; and five Emmy nominations for his extensive television work, which includes multiple appearances on “Rhoda” and “The Golden Girls” and a co-starring appearance with Katharine Hepburn in “Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry.” Harold’s voice is heard on recordings of short stories such as “Jewish Stories from the Old World and New,” and those produced by Symphony Space programs in New York, as well as numerous TV and radio commercials.

JOSEPH FUQUA (Mitch) is Rubicon Theatre’s first company member. He has appeared on and Off-Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs, 110 in the Shade ( Lincoln Center ), Raft of the Medusa and Yours, Anne. Regionally, Joseph played Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at the Arena Stage, Iago in Othello at the Dallas Shakespeare Festival and Louis in Angels in America at the Dallas Theatre Center . Joseph guest starred on “The X-Files,” “The Profiler,” “Brooklyn South,” “The Pretender,” “Chicago Hope,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Becker.” On film, he has appeared in “Ed’s Next Move,” “David Searching,” “Heyday,” and as J.E.B. Stuart in “ Gettysburg ,” a role he reprised in the Warner Brothers film “Gods and Generals” with Robert Duvall. L.A. audiences have seen Joseph in The Cat’s Meow (Drama-Logue Award), Very Truly Yours, On the Jump at South Coast Rep, and All My Sons at the International City Theatre of Long Beach. He made his professional directorial debut with J for J (featuring Jenny Sullivan and the late great, John Ritter), presented by Rubicon Theatre and 11th Hour Productions at the Court Theatre. For Rubicon, Joseph has appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Boys Next Door (Independent Award), Old Wicked Songs, Murder in the First (World Premiere), The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award), The Little Foxes, The Glass Menagerie, Art, All My Sons (Ovation Award) and The Night of the Iguana. Joseph received his MFA from Yale School of Drama. When not on stage, Joseph directs projects for Rubicon’s Young Professionals program and teaches adult acting.

 

The set design for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE is by Tom Buderwitz (Toys in the Attic). Lighting Design is by Jeremy Pivnick (Night of the Iguana, Waiting for Godot).  Sound Design is by Cricket Myers (Floyd Collins) and Drew Dalzell (Songs for a New World).  Costume design is by Marcy Froehlich (Waiting for Godot, Dancing at Lughnasa).  The Production Stage Manager for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE is Kathleen J. Parsons.

 

Schedule and Pricing

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE previews Thursday, June 16 ($25) and Friday, June 17 ($30), and opens on Saturday, June 18 (Gala ticket $175).  The production runs through Sunday, July 17. Performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 pm ($27) and 7:00 pm ($38); Thursdays at 8:00 pm ($38); Fridays at 8:00 pm ($43); Saturdays at 2:00 pm ($38) and 8:00 pm ($48) and Sundays at 2:00 pm ($38). Seniors and military personnel save $2 per ticket. Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more. The opening night gala includes show tickets and a post-show party with the cast and dignitaries.

Other special performances are as follows: post-show talkbacks the first two Wednesdays of the run with the cast (June 22 and 29); pre-show themed Friday and Saturday night dinner includes a per-show discussion with Rubicon’s artistic team on July 1 and July 2 ($25 for subscribers; $30 for general public), and an audio-described performance on Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 p.m.

All performances are at Rubicon Theatre, an intimate historic church built in the 1920s. The theatre is located at 1006 East Main Street (the corner of Main and Laurel ) in Ventura ’s Downtown Cultural District.

 

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE is sponsored by Barbara and Larry Meister and co-sponsored by Santa Barbara Bank and Trust. Season Sponsors include Sandra and Jordan Laby, Loretta and Mike Merewether, San Buenaventura Foundation for the Arts and Micheline and Albert Sakharoff.  For tickets to TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, please call (805) 667-2900.

 

For publicity photos, press information or press comps, contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or at ElzerD@aol.com.

                                                 

Rubicon Theatre Company is Ventura County ’s premier non-profit professional theatre company. Founded in 1998 by Artistic Directors James O’Neil and Karyl Lynn Burns, and administrated by O’Neil and Burns with Managing Director Norbert Tan, the mission of the company is to present a diverse season of classic and contemporary comedies, dramas and musicals for the entertainment, enrichment and education of residents and visitors to the region. In seven seasons, Rubicon has presented more than 45 productions and outreach programs to more than 165,000 audience members. The Company recently received three Ovation Awards, including Best Production for “All My Sons.” O’Neil received an NAACP Award for Best Director for “Driving Miss Daisy,” which tours to Canada next season. Other highlights of 2004 included an international collaboration with the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Canada and the first West Coast BeckettFest. Rubicon made a down payment on the building in which it resides last year, and future renovation plans are in development. For a brochure or more information about the Company, call (805) 667-2900 or visit Rubicon on the web at www.rubicontheatre.org.