John Stroud

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November 19, 2009
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Play is a perfect Carbondale Rotary Club metaphor

CARBONDALE, Colorado - Longtime Carbondale Rotary Club member and Glenwood Springs resident Wendy Moore had been asked many times to bring her and husband Bob Moore's theater talents to the stage as a club benefit.

The question was always, which play?

But after directing a successful run earlier this year of the play adaptation of "Tuesdays with Morrie" for the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge, the answer became obvious, she said.

"It's a story about this man [Professor Morrie Schwartz] giving to one of his students [Mitch Albom], and him in turn giving back to Morrie," Moore explained.

"And, that's what Rotary is all about - giving back," she said.

The encore production is slated to run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Church at Carbondale. It will be a fundraiser for the Carbondale Rotary Club to help with its community grant and student scholarship programs.

"Every year the Carbondale Rotary raises tens-of-thousands of dollars for the main purpose of distributing the funds to Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit organizations," said Jody Ensign, projects chair for the local club. "In today's financial atmosphere, the local nonprofits are finding it increasingly difficult to raise money for their important causes, and Rotary continually searches for fundraising ideas and events to assist these worthy organizations."

According to the Dramatists Play Service, "Tuesdays with Morrie" is the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom (also the author of the book by the same title), an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor.

"Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie's appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig's Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life," according to the play description.

This weekend's production stars Bob Moore as Morrie and good friend Jon Whitfield as Mitch, and is directed by Wendy Moore.

Now living in Austin, Texas, Whitfield grew up in Breckenridge and was a drama student of Wendy Moore's when she taught middle and high school and later became principal at Summit County High School.

"I grew up going to see Bob and Wendy at the Backstage Theatre," Whitfield said.

The metaphor between Rotary and "Tuesdays ..." also carries over in a way to the relationship between the Moores and Whitfield.

"They introduced me to theater, which was great for me to channel some of my [energy]," Whitfield said. "It's one of those things where you don't realize until later in life what that meant."

During his time in Breckenridge, Whitfield joined the Moores in several Backstage productions including "A Few Good Men," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Drunkard," and a compilation of works by Shakespeare.

It had been 10 years since they had worked together, but when preparing to bring "Tuesdays ..." to the Breckenridge stage last year, Wendy Moore said that after reading the script, "his was the voice I heard [for the part of Mitch]," she said, referring to Whitfield.

"I called him up and never thought he would do it, but he said 'yes,'" she recalled.

"The script is amazing," adds Whitfield. "For me personally, I hadn't acted since Bob and I did 'The Drunkard' in 1998. It's a real-life student-mentor dynamic, that fits the characters perfectly."

The Moores brought their 30-plus years of theater experience to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1998, when Wendy Moore took the job as principal of Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, a job she held until 2005.

Over the last 11 years, they've been involved in numerous Aspen Community Theatre and CMC Theatre productions, including the "Wizard of Oz," "Pippin" and "Bully," and numerous productions around the state through the Colorado Community Theatre Coalition.

Bob's next show will be "A Walk In the Woods," by Lee Blessing, at CMC's Spring Valley Center. Wendy is currently directing the upcoming performance of "The Santaland Diaries," at the Vintage Theatre in Denver.">class="NormalParagraphStyle">

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 19, 2009 01:50AM Published Nov 19, 2009 01:47AM Copyright 2009 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.