“Love Letters” is not only the next show at the Old Opera House
Theatre Company and Arts Centre (OOH) but it’s also a symbolic gift to the audience after the recent cancellation of September’s production of, “Moon Over Buffalo.”
Half of ‘Moon’s’ eight cast members became sick with COVID-19, ending the upcoming show. Steve Brewer, the organization’s manager/artistic director, said all of those affected are doing better and “on the upswing.” He continued to look for a replacement for the September slot, which became a challenge since the first performance was scheduled for September 10.
“We had a short amount of time,” Brewer said. “‘Moon’ wasn’t easy to substitute. It is a high energy farce. We needed something with more simplicity, easier to stage.”
“Love Letters” was a perfect fit. It’s the story of the life experiences shared by two characters, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, childhood friends. It involves the correspondence between the two characters over a 50-year period.
The actors sit side by side at tables, reading the notes, letters and cards in which they discuss their hopes, ambitions, dreams, disappointments, victories and defeats, taking place throughout their separate lives. The play was written by A.R.Gurney and first performed in 1988. In a review at the time, the play is said to be a performance favorite for busy name actors because it requires little preparation and lines don’t have to be memorized.
“The actors are married to each other in real life,” Brewer. “Each performance has a different couple.”
Those performances include Pat and Rhonda Markland on Friday, September 10; Glenn and Karen Frail on Saturday, September 11; Steve and Christine Brewer on Sunday, September 12; The Frails again on Friday, September 17; the Brewers on Saturday, September 18; and the Marklands on Sunday, September 19. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 2:30 p.m.
Brewer is part of the troupe.
“I only perform on occasion,” he said. “I wanted to get the couples in place quickly and have husband and wife teams.”
He added that there is no real action in the play. No memorization of lines since the letters and other correspondence are read to the audience.
“The importance is the relationships of the characters. The audience can see how they morph and change. This show was very popular in the 1980s. I hope we can get a whole new audience for it,” Brewer said.
In light of the pandemic, mask wearing is encouraged but not required.
For more information on future productions at the Old Opera House Theatre Company and Arts Centre. call 304-725-4420 or go online at www.oldoperahouse.org.