Kudos to Jeff Savage, Sarah Robards, director Rich Reimold and the entire staff of the Community Theatre of Woodbury for the wonderful production of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters. The play itself is a love letter to the written word and to the lost art of letter writing. In the Woodbury production, two actors sit side by side at a large shared desk and the story is skillfully told through the written words conveyed by the actors’ voices and facial expressions.
On Thursday night I enjoyed a twilight ride through the idyllic community of Woodbury to reach the theater by the 7:30pm curtain call. I found parking on the street, there was open seating arrangement facing the stage (as opposed to paper tickets with assigned seats) and there were tables of food and beverage and a raffle in the back.
In the production I enjoyed on Thursday, Jeff Savage portrayed Andrew Ladd III and Sarah Robards portrayed Melissa Gardner. This duo will portray the roles one more time on Saturday October 12th. The October 11th and 13th performances will feature actors Jack Kearney and Carol Birch in the aforementioned roles.
I love Jeff Savage’s work. Admittedly I already knew what he can do as we work together on the Nutmeg Junction audio theater program. Jeff brings a wonderful mischievousness to young “Andy” and as his life evolves before our eyes and ears within the correspondence, Jeff takes us with him on the journey. “Andrew” matures and we care about Andrew at every point in the fifty year span of the play. There is a stand out moment which I will not fully describe for fear of spoilers, where Jeff’s performance is emotional and raw and the audience felt it with him. Jeff has the ability to allow the audience to empathize with his character and understand the character’s choices.
This was the first time I saw acclaimed actor and director Sarah Robards’ work and I loved every minute. Sarah gives “Melissa” energy and depth and she draws the audience in from the first lines discussing a birthday present and we the audience believe it is really Melissa speaking to us through the pages of the letters. There was a lot of humor in the play and one particular moment, when Robards’ “Melissa” responds to a particular Christmas newsletter sent out by Jeff Savage’s Andrew, brought the house down.
This was my first time seeing this play so obviously that means I never saw it in my twenties or thirties but I’d be curious to hear from those who may have seen a production of Love Letters when they were in their twenties or thirties and whether they experienced it differently in the different decades of their lives.
The play certainly resonates for me and I feel fortunate to have been able to see this performance at the Community Theater at Woodbury. When the last line is spoken and the lights went down thee audience audibly expressed their profound experience of the show and the standing ovation was heartfelt and genuine.
Love Letters continues 10/11, 10/12 at 7:30pm and 10/13 at 2:00pm
The Community Theater of Woodbury is located at 7 Mountain Road, Woodbury, CT and their phone is (203) 263-3113
Their website is http://www.ctaw-ct.org/
Categories: Torrington Stories