Don Shelby and Nancy Nelson to Perform LOVE LETTERS at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters This November

The show will play Wednesday matinees on November 9 and 13, and Sunday evenings on November 16 and 20, 2022

By: Oct. 06, 2022

Don Shelby and Nancy Nelson to Perform LOVE LETTERS at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters This November

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) teams up in a poignant theatre collaboration with beloved and celebrated Twin Cities icons, Nancy Nelson & Don Shelby, as they star in LOVE LETTERS at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres for a limited four performance engagement in November.

CDT Artistic Director, Michael Brindisi, is very excited. "We'd been discussing this project before the pandemic hit and it had to be tabled," stated Brindisi. "We're so thrilled to finally be creating this with our great friends and colleagues. Nancy and Don are also dear friends in real life, which makes a project like this so meaningful and personal for our audiences and I can't wait to direct them."

This Pulitzer Prize-nominated gem, by American playwright, A.R. Gurney, has graced stages from Broadway and across the world. A two-character play, LOVE LETTERS is the story of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner's tender and funny relationship and ill-fated romance. It is told through their personal letters to each other from second grade through adolescence, maturity and into middle age, over a 50-year timespan.

Gurney himself describes LOVE LETTERS as "a play which needs no theater, no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorization of lines, and no commitment from its two actors beyond the night of the performance. It is designed to simply be read aloud by two actors of roughly the same age, sitting side-by-side at a table." As they are read, what is created is an evocative, touching, frequently funny but always telling pair of character studies in which what is implied is as revealing and meaningful as what is actually written. Like many things that appear uncomplicated, LOVE LETTERS is more demanding than it looks. Both actors must be capable of expressing the most subtle nuances through voice alone. They must know their parts through and through before taking the stage, even when the script is directly in front of them, there's no substitution for preparation. (more)

Brindisi stated, "It's totally compelling theatre. The play's the thing. It's an amazing two hours of theatre where two characters nurture a high level of drama through these letters. People will really be drawn in by this production."

LOVE LETTERS opened on Broadway in October of 1989 and was being presented like a revolving door with a different cast of celebrities every week. It worked well for years and years because people were interested to see their favorite television and film stars on stage and the celebrities could easily commit to short performance stints. LOVE LETTERS is still being presented to this day on a variety of stages across the globe. In May 2020, Sally Field and Bryan Cranston performed an online version of the play during the COVID-19 pandemic to benefit the Actors Fund.

Brindisi is happy to revisit this production and has directed it three times before at CDT (1993) to critical acclaim, featuring Susan Long and Alan Hamilton, David Anders and Susan Goeppinger (I Do! I Do! acclaim), and with Marion Ross ("Happy Days") and her real-life spouse, actor Paul Michael.

The Wall Street Journal called LOVE LETTERS, "the love affair of a lifetime!" LOVE LETTERS will play in Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' intimate Playhouse Theatre for a limited engagement of FOUR PERFORMANCES ONLY: Wednesday matinees on November 9 and 13, Sunday evenings on November 16 and 20, 2022. Ticket prices are $44 for show only or $62 with dinner! For tickets call the CDT Box Office at 952-934-1525 or visit


Nancy Nelson (Melissa Gardner) was born and raised in Minneapolis and has spent her entire life on television, stage, and radio. First on stage at age 8, she was still in high school when she did her first television show, "Date with Dino." After high school graduation she began nearly two decades as a professional actor on stage at the Old Log Theater, was the midnight weather girl at WCCO-TV, host of "What's New?" and news anchor/reporter at Channel 11 TV, played a role in the movie "Airport." Nancy became a commuting wife when hired to anchor news at KKTV Los Angeles where she won 2 Emmy Awards for investigative reporting. She did a stint on KABC Radio, LA. Nancy's presence went global, and she became known as the "International Infomercial Queen," named by Forbes Magazine as the most influential international informercial presenter of the decade. This former Miss Minnesota was inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, swam with dolphins, flew with the Blue Angels, drove a race car with Paul Newman, broadcast from the Academy Awards, threw out a Twins first pitch, traveled the world interviewing movies stars, presidents and astronauts, and she donated a kidney. Nancy is passionately dedicated to working on behalf of abused women, children, animals, the environment, the homeless, and the hungry. Today she is a Greeter-Emcee at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Nancy's greatest blessing, she says, was the privilege of being married to her Billy, WCCO-TV news anchor, Bill Carlson. And now, "such sweet joy to share the stage with my dear, remarkable Don Shelby."

DON SHELBY (Andrew Makepeace Ladd III) is considered the most decorated local news anchor in the country with two George Foster Peabodys, the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, three National Emmys with the WCCO-TV I-Team and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Society of Professional Journalists, among hundreds of other honors. He anchored WCCO-TV's newscasts for 32 of his 55-year career in journalism. But, like his predecessor, Dave Moore, his very first love was theater.

Upon his retirement from the news desk in 2011, Don appeared in the Lab Theater's production of Rocky Horror, appearing with numerous Guthrie actors in a performance of 8 at the Varsity Theater. He was a featured actor in Safe at Home at the Mixed Blood Theatre, and he has performed more than 200 times, in character, as Mark Twain in shows at performing arts centers throughout the state, in New Orleans and even aboard the legendary Delta Queen Riverboat on the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Don was inducted to the Broadcast Hall of Fame, as well as the Silver and Gold Circles by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is a Trustee of the Science Museum of Minnesota, as well as seven other boards ranging from climate change to racial healing. He is on the board of directors of VocalEssence. Don is the author of the book "The Season Never Ends" and has written the foreword to more than a dozen books. He has raised more than $100 million in charity donations. He is delighted to be paired with one of his dearest friends, Nancy Nelson, in this performance of Love Letters.


Celebrating over 50 years, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is the nation's largest professional dinner theatre company. Since 1968 CDT has welcomed nearly 13 million visitors with its unique form of hospitality. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is a fully-professional, producing musical theatre company. With scenic and costume shops on site, all design elements are created and executed by CDT's resident artistic design and technical staff. The artistic program is led by President and Artistic Director, Michael Brindisi. Brindisi works with co-owners Tamara Kangas-Erickson, VP and Choreographer, and Steven L. Peters, to manage CDT. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres provides inspired entertainment and world-class hospitality to its guests. We create amazing, lifelong memories through living the values of respect hospitality, creativity and collaboration. To learn more, visit