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LOVE LETTERS Starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove Opens at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

The play opened on 3 December 2020, the first day after the Prime Minister decreed that lockdown would end.

LOVE LETTERS Starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove Opens at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Just eighteen hours after the end of the UK's current lockdown, Bill Kenwright presented Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove in A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, directed by Roy Marsden, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The play opened on 3 December 2020, the first day after the Prime Minister decreed that lockdown would end.

This production of Love Letters was previewed at Theatre Royal, Windsor as part of its five-week, five-day, five-play season.

Love Letters first opened in New York in 1989 and was a finalist in the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Gaining huge popularity, it has since played in theatres across the globe, attracting both real-life and on-screen couples to star as the protagonists. The last Broadway production in 2014 featured Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy.

When the young Andrew Makepeace Ladd III accepts an invitation to Melissa Gardner's birthday party, Melissa writes him a thank you note... and a unique romantic friendship and delicately warm correspondence destined to last for almost half a century is born.

Love Letters is the tender, tragi-comic story of the shared nostalgia, missed opportunities, and deep closeness of two lifelong, complicated friends. A play that could have been written for the Covid era about two people physically separated yet brought together by candid communication and shared confidences, a romance blossoming across the miles and the years.

The hugely popular TV series Judge John Deed ended its sixth and final series with one of TV's most-watched cliff-hangers, keeping nine million TV viewers on tenterhooks as on-off lovers Judge John Deed (Martin Shaw) and barrister Jo Mills (Jenny Seagrove) were left in an empty wedding chapel.

Since then Judge John Deed has consistently topped polls of TV shows viewers most want to return.

Now Shaw and Seagrove are together again, live on stage, in a heart-warming love story...

In the interim, both have made several West End theatre appearances and Shaw has starred in several series as Inspector George Gently, while Seagrove has completed big screen appearances in Another Mother's Son and Off the Rails.

Martin Shaw's many West End successes include: Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons and Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (both Theatre Royal Haymarket), Alan Bleasdale's Are You Lonesome Tonight, Clifford Odets' The Country Girl, Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men and most recently (and relevantly) as a tortured American presidential candidate in Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Jenny Seagrove last starred at the Haymarket in Alan Ayckbourn's How The Other Half Loves and her many West End productions include Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana, David Rabe's Hurly Burly, David Hare's The Secret Rapture, Noël Coward's Present Laughter and Somerset Maugham's The Letter.

BIOGRAPHIES

A.R. Gurney was born in Buffalo, New York, on November 1, 1930. Gurney's first major success came in 1982 with The Dining Room. This was followed by The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, The Old Boy, The Snow Ball (from his novel of 1984) and Sylvia, all of which enjoyed success in New York. His many awards and honours included the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice at the 2016 Obie Awards. A.R. Gurney died in 2017.

Martin Shaw's credits include A Streetcar Named Desire playing Stanley Kowalski opposite Claire Bloom, The Country Girl, Elvis Presley in the award winning Are You Lonesome Tonight, Sir Thomas More in A Man for all Seasons and Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (which earned him an Olivier nomination, and after a transfer to Broadway, a Tony nomination and the New York Critics Drama Desk Award for best actor). Recent West End appearances include Twelve Angry Men in 2013, Hobson's Choice in 2016 and The Best Man in 2018.

Highlights of his distinguished television career include The Professionals, which still plays on screens worldwide, the Italia Prize-winning Cream in My Coffee by Dennis Potter and the title roles in the series Rhodes, Scott of the Antarctic and eight seasons of Inspector George Gently. Films include Roman Polanski's Macbeth, Operation Daybreak, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Ladder of Swords.

Jenny Seagrove is one of the West End's busiest stars, including leading roles in The Exorcist, How The Other Half Loves, Volcano, Bedroom Farce, A Daughter's A Daughter, Absurd Person Singular, The Letter, Night Of The Iguana, The Secret Rapture, Brief Encounter, The Constant Wife, The Female Odd Couple, Hurlyburly, The Miracle Worker and Present Laughter.

Film credits include: Off The Rails, Another Mother's Son, Zoe, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, William Friedkin's The Guardian, A Chorus Of Disapproval, Appointment With Death, Sherlock Holmes - The Sign Of Four, Local Hero, Miss Beatty's Children, To Hell And Back In Time For Breakfast and A Shocking Accident (Oscar for Best Short).

Love Letters is directed by Roy Marsden. Roy was artistic director of The Mermaid Theatre, where highlights included Vivat! Vivat! Regina!. Other West End credits include The Hobbit, Mary Westmacott's A Daughter's a Daughter and Noël Coward's Volcano.

As an actor, he started at the Nottingham Repertory Theatre before joining the RSC, later spending three years at the Northcott Theatre and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. He is perhaps best known for his work in television, portraying PD James' Detective Chief Inspector Dalgliesh for 14 years. He is also remembered for his portrayal of the character of Neil Burnside in The Sandbaggers, Jack Ruskin in Airline, Mr Chips in Goodbye Mr Chips, and Danny Driscoll, Del Boy's nemesis, in Only Fools and Horses.


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