By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger
The November 9th opening night performance for Love Letters at the Lone Tree Arts Center was a refreshing throwback to good old-fashioned letter writing in an age of emojis and texts.
The telling of the beautiful life-long friendship between Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner begins at age seven with a birthday party invitation. Their heartfelt and occasionally tumultuous relationship spans fifty years from the sweetness of puppy love to uncertainty during college to the tenderness and wisdom gained in later adulthood. Love Letters succeeds in placing the relationship at the center of the story and reminds us that our relationships are central to our lives as well.
Although Andrew and Melissa both come from privileged backgrounds, Melissa is the more tragic of the two coming from an unstable home with divorce and stepfamilies. Their childhoods greatly influence their definition and expectations of love. Candy Brown is captivating as independent and vivacious Melissa. She is a quick wit and flashes a beautiful smile. Although Andrew is less dramatic, Mark Rubald captures Andrew’s vulnerability and conveys warmth and a romantic side in his yearnings for Melissa.
Held in the LTAC’s 150 person theater, the setting complements the production and reflects the intimacy of the storyline. It is the relationships in our lives that make the journey valuable and worthwhile.
Not limited to just formal letters, the story is propelled forward with a variety of correspondence including invitations, RSVPs, Christmas cards, and brief notes. This variety helps the pacing and allows personalities to emerge with teasing and sarcasm.
Both friends endure rough patches in life and correspondence stagnates and it is heartbreaking when there is no response. But soon enough there is the realization that the connection is more important than the fear and shame of sharing one’s failures. Love Letters is a tender reminder that for a friendship to withstand fifty years, both parties need to offer patience and understanding, to reach out and participate, to be vulnerable and respect the vulnerability of others.
Love Letters continues through November 19.