Intimate lives in death at Pacific Theatre

Photo by Ron Reed. Pictured (L-R): Ken Hildebrandt and Glen Pinchin

Photo by Ron Reed. Pictured (L-R): Ken Hildebrandt and Glen Pinchin

The novel and play Tuesdays with Morrie has been a hit all over the world.  Vancouver can rejoice that it is now on stage at the Pacific Theatre until September 24.

The story revolves around just two characters: a college student named Mitch Albom who becomes a big time sports journalist in Detroit, and his former college professor Morrie Schwartz who is dying and has been featured on Nightline.

After many years of not speaking to each other, Mitch comes back to visit his old, frail and dying mentor and starts a series of interviews with Morrie every Tuesday.  Each week reveals something new about Mitch, and even Morrie himself.

In conjunction with Abbotsford’s Gallery 7, the Pacific Theatre presents this very intimate and heartfelt (yet funny) story in a theatre with no more than 65 seats.  Opening night on September 14 saw the small and cozy theatre filled to capacity with an audience who was taken along an emotional journey of life lessons through death.

Actors Ken Hildebrandt (Mitch) and Glen Pinchin (Morrie) do the story justice in their portrayal of a relationship which pushes the boundaries of the way men can be intimate with each other.

“What’s missing in North American culture is that men can agree to be men and intimate at the same time,” says actor Ken Hildebrandt, “and not have it be sexual.”

Hildebrandt believes that young men need older men to be mentors and not be afraid of how they’ll be perceived, or that there is something wrong with being emotional.

“Older men need to mentor them (younger men) and teach them to be in touch with their emotions,” says Hildebrandt, “and learn how they feel about life and death…this play shows that you can go into the emotion and you can do so in a safe place and grow as a result.”

The 80 minute play (with no intermission) captures audiences from the beginning, as Mitch appears on stage in a monologue describing Morrie.  As Mitch sits at the piano playing, Morrie appears dancing and perfectly matches the description being told to you by Mitch.

Glen Pinchin, as Morrie, perfectly portrays a man whose body is slowly degenerating, and captures the essence of what it would be like to watch your body become frail while your mind is still sharp.  With no added make-up and with only a few scene changes, Pinchin’s performance convinces audiences that he is actually dying.  His movements are slower, his face is obvious with pain, and his voice becomes that much weaker.

Kristy Barclay, 29, a kindergarten teacher in Coquitlam was at opening night.  She has read the novel and was a bit apprehensive about the play.  But she was pleasantly surprised.

“It was an amazing performance in a very intimate setting,” says Barclay. “I was left inspired to live life in peace and to always live it in full color. This play warms your heart and really makes you appreciate all the people you meet in your life. I recommend everyone see it.”

Visit for tickets and show times.