JCTC Presents Jersey City Debut Of LOVE LETTERS

By: May. 02, 2019

JCTC Presents Jersey City Debut Of LOVE LETTERS

One of the classics of contemporary American Theater gets its Jersey City debut when Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents Love Letters by A.R. Gurney at the black box theater in Merseles Studios, May 24, 25, 26.

A poignant tale of a romantic connection that lasts a lifetime, Love Letters tells the story of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner, childhood friends whose lifelong correspondence begins with birthday party thank-you notes and summer camp postcards and continues throughout their entire lives spanning college, wartime, adulthood careers, marriages and other milestones.

Love Letters covers several decades and has been praised by critics for its distinctive storytelling device - the dialogue consists solely of the actual letters written by the two star-crossed lovers - and its emotional focus on how the love between Andy and Melissa evolves over time. Love Letters, a finalist for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, has been performed by some of the most well-known actors in theater and film: Mia Farrow, Tom Hanks, Carol Burnett, Martin Sheen, Lynn Redgrave, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Houston' Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones.

"Theatre is about exploration, and love is one of the most universal explorations of all," said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. "Love Letters invites the audience on a journey of a relationship that is not just romantic, but a life-long friendship. JCTC is proud to present this unique production of Love Letters, a beloved and moving classic of modern theatre."

The JCTC presentation of Love Letters is directed by Jason Beckman and stars Claudia Godi and Richard Fiske. The trio first encountered Gurney's play at Carnegie Hall Studios - Studio 809 as students of Robert X. Modica, the famed New York acting teacher. They recently performed two staged readings as a lead up to the full-production at Merseles Studios, which is not only the Jersey City debut of the play, but the first New York area production of Love Letters in nearly a decade. Love Letters is produced by Freedom Productions, a multimedia production company founded by Franco Zerlenga.

The production's minimalist stage design enhances the intimacy of the story, invoking a pre-digital era of personal communication. "Love Letters is about how two friends grow closer together as they grow up, which is a universal story and why this play has been performed all over the world," said Beckman. "Writing letters may be a thing of the past, but the tactile sense of closeness that comes with writing and reading letters is something we miss in today's world of social media. It's interesting to see how the closeness shared by two people reaches beyond technology."

One of the innovations of the Jersey City debut of Love Letters is the intentional artistic choice of casting of an Italian in the role of Melissa. "I love how this play in a very simple way, takes you through the journey of the complexity of human beings, relationships, love," said Godi. "This play always reminds me of the importance of being able to take risks for love. My challenge in this play as an actress is to give an 'Italian Version" of Melissa and at the same time transmit the universal message of the play and reach the audience's hearts."