Playwright (And Renaissance Man) Tom Morgan Taking Play On Road

Playwright (And Renaissance Man) Tom Morgan Taking Play On Road

By LIBBY CUDMORE

Tom Morgan, the former Oneonta financial adviser known for his one-man “Tales of the Empire” plays, has now turned an argument into art.

In 2012, he and wife Erna Morgan McReynolds witnessed what Morgan described as “an obsessive amount of parental control.”

“I began to wonder, ‘What would happen down the road’?” he said. “It served as a catalyst.”

He began writing, and what came out was his newest play, “Leaving Something Behind,” which opens at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at the Players of Utica theater, 1108 State St. The second show, at 7 p.m. Monday, July 14, will feature a Q&A with Morgan, as well as director Eileen Tiller-Clanton, who also plays the mother, and Rayna Schneider, who plays the daughter.

The show centers around the mother and daughter as they reveal and unravel ugly truths, shocking revelations and painful memories. “The primal issue is control,” said Morgan. “It’s an issue that’s as old as time – you see it in ancient Greek tragedy, in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” It reverberates, it’s very central to our lives.”

But he insisted that the show isn’t as grim as it might seem. “The mother is a very ditzy, Edith Bunker type,” he said. “So that brings some laughs, and the daughter has a very sardonic sense of humor.”

He tried out the script in late 2013 with a staged reading at SUNY Oneonta. “The audience really loved it,” he said. “I took it to Rayna to see if she could get it produced.”

Still the voice behind “Tom Morgan’s Moneytalk,” the longest-running short feature in American radio – it’s been on the air for 36 years – Tom turned to playwriting after retiring as a financial adviser. “I had done just about every other kind of writing,” he said. “I had written about the Empire Hotel in my columns, and Franklin Stage asked me to do a reading of some of those stories.”

He took it one step further and wrote a one-man show. “That’s when I became a playwright and an actor,” he said. “And that was an adventure!”

In 2008-11, Morgan’s “Tales of the Empire” series, based on his father’s proprietorship of the so-named Gilbertsville hotel, was a staple at the Franklin Stage Company. “Leaving Something Behind” is Morgan’s fifth play and the first he isn’t starring in. “I think it will tug at the audience’s heartstrings,” he said. “This kind of story gets inside people.”

And from here, he hopes the play can be performed in larger venues. “I’d love to take it to Broadway!” he said. “What the heck, I’ll aim high!”