Directors say why they chose ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ and ‘On Approval’

LYNDEN — The Lynden Performing Arts Guild is presenting two shows this fall: “Tuesdays with Morrie,” directed by Shawn Fuller, and “On Approval,” directed by Alan Peet. These two plays run concurrently.

It’s been a while since the community theater has done two show “in repertory,” the proper reference, notes Kit Vonnegut, board member.

It takes the right type of two shows for it to work, and these do, he said. “The sets are not complex, and were designed to be changed easily for each play.”

“Tuesdays with Morrie” opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. Its other performances are at 2 p.m. Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, 2 p.m. Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 and 2 p.m. Oct. 5. “On Approval” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, and its other performances are at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, 2 p.m. Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, 2 p.m. Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and 2 p.m. Oct. 6.

Tickets are on sale online at www.theclaire.org, or at the theater box office at 655 Front St. from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, or call 360-354-4425 during those hours.

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom (played by Sean Walbeck in the Lynden production), an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz (played by Ken Gunning), his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mitch reaches out to Morrie and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.

Local director Shawn Fuller she wanted to do this show because of the powerful student-teacher relationship presented and how that relationship changes both of the characters. 

“On Approval” follows the story of Maria (played by Teri Grimes), a widow deeply suspicious of all men. Richard (played by David Bolden) has been in love with her all his life, but never has had the courage to declare his love. When he finally admits his love, Maria agrees that although he appears to be entirely compatible, she needs time to be sure. She will take him to her country house in Scotland “on approval” to live ostensibly as man and wife and see if they are indeed compatible. Richard’s friend the Duke (played by Conner Moulaison) conspires to join them as he is anxious to avoid a decision on marriage to restore his lost family fortune. Helen (played by Hannah Rants), a rich heiress who is in love with the Duke, hears of the plan and also contrives to join them in order to spend time with the Duke. At the end of the month, the utter selfishness of the Duke and Maria leads Helen and Richard to realize that the people they thought they were in love with don’t really exist. 

Director Peet said he chose this play because he loves shows with unexpected turns and unusual perspectives. On the surface, “On Approval” is a conventional comedy, but he believes there are hidden depths in various characters that make it much more than that.