Answer Man: ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ canceled in Rochester
Hi … who but you would know? Why was the “Tuesdays with Morrie” production at Mayo Civic Center canceled? I got email notification that I needed to come to the Civic Center ticket office to pick up a refund on the canceled production. I asked at the ticket office and was told, “We have no idea. The promoter called and told us to stop selling tickets.” Really?
Thanks for any info you may have. — Kathy
Another reader, an avid Answer Man fan who also was planning to spend some time with Morrie, had the same question Tuesday:
What in the world happened to “Tuesdays with Morrie,” which I and hundreds more were so looking forward to? — An avid Mitch Albom fan
Well, Kathy and Avid Fan, pour yourself another cup of coffee. I have a story to tell you.
First of all, Rochester performances of the play, based on the ultra-popular 1997 book by Detroit writer Mitch Albom, have been scratched. I haven’t heard that from Mayo Civic Center, but one of my research associates heard it at 9:30 a.m. today from the producer, William Rogers, who lives in Pepin, Wis.
The performances here were set for next Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 21-23, and were to star Jamie Farr, of “M*A*S*H*” fame. Again, we’ve called the Civic Center for information and haven’t gotten any yet. The event has disappeared from the Civic Center website, though it’s still on the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau website. The production’s Facebook page is still up, also, but according to Ticketmaster online, the Rochester shows have been cancelled.
Tickets went on sale in April and were $25, $35 and $50. Refunds are available from the point of purchase, which means if you bought them at the Civic Center box office, you’ll inconveniently have to go there.
Performances beyond Rochester remain scheduled, Rogers said, but Farr is out of the picture.
Here’s the tangled story.
Rogers said this morning that he ran into a problem last month getting work visas for the director, Ron Ulrich, and the actor who was to play opposite Farr, David Keeley, both of whom are Canadian nationals. “The Department of Homeland Security turned down their requests for work visas,” Rogers said. “We thought we might be able to get it cleared up” so the show could go on, but so far, no dice, he said.
He learned of the DHS decision around Aug. 25, he said. Farr dropped out after that point, as he was entitled to do under terms of his contract. “We filed an appeal and I have no doubt that ultimately they’ll correct their mistake, but it could take up to two months to correct.”
In the meantime, “what we’re trying to do is put together another cast, and we’re hoping to do all our dates.” About 40 performances are set through Dec. 10, he said.
Rogers acknowledged that it’s confusing for all concerned, including ticket holders. “We’re not sure which way we’re going” at this point, he said, but “there’s no way we could be ready to do the Rochester shows, and the dates on the tour can’t be moved.”
Advance ticket buyers presumably were looking forward to seeing Farr on stage, but most likely there will be no refunds due to the change of cast.
Rogers said he was “shocked” that Homeland Security officials denied the work visas. “We’re not bringing in Yemeni nationals,” he said. “It’s Canada. It’s north Detroit, and we couldn’t get somebody across the border to direct the play. I can only speculate on what the difference is between the previous times Canadians have been allowed to perform and now.”
Rogers was still raising money for the production on Kickstarter just a few months ago. According to the Kickstarter page, that funding project failed as of July 13. There also was an effort on another crowdsourcing site, Backers Community, that expired on July 13.
The show is scheduled at the Viterbo College Fine Arts Center in La Crosse, Wis., on Sept. 27. We called the box office there this morning and were told that they’ve received questions about whether the show’s going on, and as it stands, it will.
But watch this space.