'Love Letters' brings Valentine's reminder to Sussex theater stage
Longtime musician Chris English and his son Grayson are releasing a new album, "Howlin' so Long." Produced by Ralph Musthaler
In today’s world where technology often is a faceless interaction with a phone, computer, iPad and even watches to communicate with each other, there is an intimacy that has been compromised when it comes to expressing our thoughts through words.
A.R. Gurney's classic play, "Love Letters," takes the audience on a journey of an ever-evolving friendship that blossoms into romance with the old fashioned use of pen and paper.
The two-person play is performed by nationally known actors who reside here in Delaware, Bob Kemp and Liane Hansen.
Hansen is a nationally syndicated radio host and an Emmy Award winner for a documentary on “Women in News.”
Kemp is a professional actor in Los Angeles and Miami with hundreds of appearances on TV, and in movies, commercials and voice-overs. He is also known as the “Face of Holly Kia."
Although A.R. Gurney’s play, “Love Letters” closed in 1990 on Broadway after 96 performances, it became a beloved play for many local actors and even A-list actors who kept it alive, having performed all over the world. What do you believe makes this play so intriguing?
Kemp: Aside from being a Pulitzer Prize nominated play, written by a great American playwright, I think it is a timeless love story involving the most basic necessities of life: love, money, sex, power while stressing the importance of the written word which will never end.
Hansen: It is a wonderfully written love story told only through the letters the characters written to one another over a span of 50 years. But the story is not predictable and transcends the time it is set and the time is was written.
What will each of your roles will be?
Kemp: My character is Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, a conservative Republican U.S. senator who is a hardworking, honorable overachiever and usually always does the right thing. He is a great guy, but needs to remember sometimes that life is too short to be so serious all the time.
Hansen: I am Melissa, a girl from a wealthy background, dysfunctional family and artistic temperament.
Based on each of your backgrounds, explain how each of you relate to your character or the story line on some level?
Kemp: I can relate to my character in many ways, but two things pop in mind. One is his desire to always make his parents proud. No matter what, his parents came first. It seems my life I’ve always held the same foundation.
Second is the childhood letter writing in school (e.g. “Will you be my Valentine?”) — I remember writing love letters like that in elementary school like it was yesterday and it brings back innocent childhood memories.
Hansen: As a woman of a certain age I can relate to Melissa and the choices she makes. I love her sense of humor when she’s in crisis.
A two-person show could be intimidating to any actor, no matter how experienced, because you are relying on each other with no one else on that stage with you. Is this a challenge for you and if so, what are some ways you work through this?
Kemp: Liane is the ultimate professional. We’ve worked together in two shows before and I’ve seen her work up close, front and center. I love her and her talent. She’s wicked smart too and although that can be intimidating at times, she is real and very giving, trustworthy and strong, yet vulnerable.
She’s the perfect partner and I am so lucky to get to work with her on this production and I’ll be leaning on her throughout the show. Also, the Dickens Theatre is so intimate and beautiful, so looking out into the audience is a magical experience — it’s a one of a kind masterpiece theatrical venue.
Hansen: I’m very lucky to be doing this with Bob. We’ve been in two shows together at Dickens so we know our chemistry works. We’ve already spent time reading it through as well as reading each other’s parts.
What do you hope for audiences to get from this play?
Kemp: I want to make the audience pick up a pen and write a letter to someone they love within a week or two after this performance. I want them to acknowledge how short life is and when someone touches your life, go ahead and let them know how meaningful they are to you.
Hansen: Pay attention to the love in your life. It’s easy to take for granted.
In the fast-paced world of technology where everything is instant, do you believe courtship is a lost art?
Kemp: Yes. In this fast-paced texting, instant messaging type of world, most of us do not have time to stop and organize our thoughts clearly and concisely. I am guilty of it too and “Love Letters” is the perfect message for me: “Hurry up and slow down! Take time and value what you cherish. Money isn’t everything.”
Hansen: No. Courtship still happens. I think letter writing is a lost art.
IF YOU GO
“Love Letters,” a play by A.R. Gurney
Where: Dickens Theatre, 35715 Atlantic Ave., Millville
When: Feb. 16-17, 7 p.m.; Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.; Feb. 23-24 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.
Info: 302-829-1071 or www.dptmagic.com