I recently visited the Theatre at the Center in Munster to see a special performance of Love Letters, a one-night-only fundraiser.
Love Letters written by A.R. Gurney was truly a remarkable production. From the very beginning, this play was filled with laughter, love, heartbreak and raw passion. The play was starred Crista Zivanovic, from The Times Media Company, as rebel Melissa Gardner, and Phil Potempa, from the Post-Tribune, as scholarly Andrew Ladd III. This emotional rollercoaster was depicted by a series of notes, invitations, and letters read aloud to the audience. These love notes began in second grade as the two young friends discovered their passions, and continued through the rest of their adult lives.
My favorite aspect about this production was that the letters were not being acted out, but simply being read aloud. It left some events and conversations up for interpretation of what really happened. As the letters progress through events in their lives like Andy getting shipped to an all-boys school and Melissa being forced to go to a nunnery, you hear everything throughout the years even if a significant time as passed. You can hear their tones change drastically as they get older and become teenagers with new “interests” and stronger (rawer) vocabulary. You hear the hurt and the happiness in the voices reading the letters as if you are there with them writing.
The storyline itself was dramatic, but extremely realistic. They were best friends who crushed on each other as teens and tried hitting it off in college. They meet new lovers, got married, had children, divorced and ultimately have an affair together. In the end, things fell apart and Andy realized who he loved the most all along. The end was sad but also the most romantic part of the entire play for me. Phil Potempa, with tears forming in his eyes, read the last letter to Melissa’s mother after her death, with lumps in his throat. You felt the emotion radiating through this letter and through his voice as he talks about the true love that Andy felt for his lost friend and lover. Crista turned to him for the first time throughout the production as he was reading and Melissa interjected with relieved phrases such as “Oh Andy” and “I know.” (Yes, I was bawling my eyes out during this scene and would bawl my eyes out if I ever get to see it again).
The production makes you look at the ones you love and that you feel so closely to and really appreciate the time you have or had with them. This tops the list of productions I have seen!
Visit the Theatre at the Center’s website for a list of rotating shows coming up and get your tickets for a fun night out. If you are looking for anything from classic theatre pieces, comedy, children’s shows, or musicals, there is sure to be a performance for you!