HENRICO, Va. — After what many felt was a lackluster bid in the Richmond mayoral race, local attorney and former State Delegate Joe Morrissey has finally found the spotlight he’s been searching for on the local stage. Taking his debut turn in the role of Michael in a Henrico production of the play “I’ll Always Love My Mamma,” Morrissey shows an uncanny affinity for the stage and the limelight. The local production tells a compelling tale of family, love, loss, and the intricacies of a large family gathering. What could go wrong when you mix a few drinks with a few family secrets?
From the moment he first walks the boards, it is obvious that Morrissey feels a resolute confidence under the glaring stage lights. A debut performance can leave an inexperienced actor feeling exposed and vulnerable, but first-timer Morrissey shows a veteran’s courage and carries himself on the stage with a presence that suggests he is deeply accustomed to being under the scrutiny of a crowded room that is not inclined to believe him.
Even more impressive is his ability to deliver each line with a sincerity and realism most thespians spend years trying to capture. Morrissey assumes his role completely and, in many of the play’s scenes, you can truly believe that he is the character he portrays — a loving husband named Michael. Some actors spend months, or even years, preparing for a roll but the still-green Morrissey has donned this fresh and foreign persona in record time for this production, as if it’s a facade he is accustomed to adopting.
It’s useless to debate what unique life experiences could have lead Morrissey to be so deft at making the playwright’s words seem his own or to so thoroughly inhabit the character. The only safe assumption is that he has at last found the place where his talents truly belong — where the audience welcomes his flights of fancy.