'Love Letters' on stage this weekend

2014-02-26T00:00:00Z 'Love Letters' on stage this weekend nwitimes.com

MICHIGAN CITY | Footlight Theatre’s latest fundraiser, “Love Letters,” will be presented Saturday and Sunday.

The plot is simple — two actors read a lifetime of letters between friends and sometime-lovers. The characters they relate are much more complex. Melissa Gardner, a troubled artist from a rich family, and the ambitious "liberal Republican" Andrew Makepeace Ladd III are exposed through 50 years worth of correspondence that is at times laugh-out-loud funny, bawdy, and, in the end, heart-wrenching.

These roles will be taken on by Footlight actors Alicia Ebaugh and John Avila, who also are in a longstanding relationship.

“I think being so familiar with each other has helped us understand and convey the emotional nuances that come out in the play’s text,” Ebaugh said. “It sounds like you’re just watching these two people on stage read to each other, but it is surprisingly far from being boring.”

The first act of the play covers Melissa and Andy's youth. They meet in second grade, start a correspondence when they're sent off to boarding school and continue it once they're at college. Some halting attempts are made at romance, but they tend to go badly, sometimes hilariously so. The timing is never quite right, and much of the time Andy seems to be stuck in the friend zone.

In other words, they're only close when writing back and forth. Face to face, they're at loose ends. Their lives take very different paths over the years but they never lose touch, and as the play builds toward a tragic ending "Love Letters" takes on a decidedly bittersweet flavor.

There’s a reason “Love Letters,” written by A.R. Gurney, was the 1990 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama, said director Bobby Komendera. “These two deeply flawed characters are completely relatable, even though they may lead different lives than we do,” he said.

“Love Letters” is showing for two performances only, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Footlight Theatre box office at (219) 874-4035 or online at www.footlightplayers.org. Patrons should be aware that this is a fundraiser and patron cards will not be accepted. Footlight Theatre is located at 1705 Franklin St.

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