Staircase Theatre is presenting AR Gurney’s play, Love Letters, this February as a Valentine’s Day special. According to the playwright, it is “designed to be read aloud by an actor and actress of roughly the same age, sitting side by side at a table.” The play covers 50 years of communications between Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III.
Through a half-century, the couple shares passion, tragedy, and heartbreak. More than half the play takes place before the two reach adulthood, and invites the audience into a written journey of the lifelong friends.
The choices of casting and rehearsal style make this play unique and guarantee its authenticity. There are few things more touching than a handwritten message, and this play sounds like an ideal date for Valentine’s Day.
This production by Staircase Theatre is unique in that different actors will be used for every performance — each pair of actors are also couples in real life.
This brings a sense of authenticity and freshness to the play that is rare in the world of theatre. Director Ryan Gladstone spoke to The Peak about the production.
The Peak: Since the play is set at a table with the script, how different was it for you to put together?
Ryan Gladstone: We will be doing rehearsals the day of the performance. This is instead of being highly rehearsed over a long period of time like a normal play. It’ll be very raw.
P: Why did the company choose to switch players each night?
RG: It’s part of the idea of rehearsing the day of. Repeats in casting will make it less fresh.
P: Was it difficult to find and cast four couples?
RG: All were previously known by Maryanne Renzetti [Staircase Theatre Artistic Director]. They are all working actors so finding four was not easy.
P: Which love story, if any, would you compare Melissa and Andrew’s to?
RG: Maybe Forrest Gump, because they are friends as kids, they have a special connection, they come in and out of each others lives, and they face their hardships separately.
P: Do you feel this play speaks to couples of all ages?
RG: Yes, because of the beauty of it. The act of love is the same for all ages. When hormones take over, you become a child again no matter your age. You experience the same emotions, the same feelings, and the same fears.
P: Will singles be able to enjoy it, too?
RG: Yes, for the performance alone. It’s worth it.
Love Letters is presented by Staircase Theatre from February 11–14 at The Shop. For more information, visit, staircase.org.