ALI MACGRAW AND RYAN O'NEAL TOGETHER AGAIN
Today, we live in an instantaneous world. We delight in sending e-mails, text messages, tweets, instagrams and communicating on Facebook. How many of us actually pick up a pen, or God forbid, a fountain pen with real ink, to write a heartfelt message using cursive writing and complete thoughts. it is refreshing to return to a gentler and kinder and more personal time when people took pen to paper and actually exchanged handwritten letters. Now with Valentine’s Day upon us, we have the unique opportunity to combine the art of penmanship with the composition of notes with a romantic flair in A. R. Gurney’s touchingly sincere “Love Letters” playing at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts until Sunday, February 14.
Whether they are exchanging postcards from summer camp, notes about escapades at private school, get well missives after she breaks her leg skiing, congratulatory words on achieving being at the top of his class at college graduation or the inevitable letters of apology for some slight or misstep, Melissa and Andy mark all the big and small moments of their friendship and affection by writing to each other. Even their pauses in communication speak volumes, when one or the other is miffed. What began as puppy love has grown over the years and is so much more meaningful when their letters are read by two people who have “history” together. This is just part of a National Tour for the pair, who are being directed by Gregory Mosher.How extra special to have celestial sparkling stars like Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal as the two friends, or more than friends, in question sharing their thoughts. Ms. MacGraw portrays Melissa Gardner who has had a fifty-year relationship with childhood friend Andrew Makepeace Ladd III played by her long ago co-star in the classic “Love Story.” That tale of Oliver and Jenny and their ill-fated romance is forever seared in our psyches. Now the two portray a different couple, one who meet at age seven in second grade to be exact, at a birthday party, and even though she is outlandish, outspoken and a tad rebellious and he is straight arrow, conservative and a bit stuffy, they form a connection that endures over time and geographical separation.
Into her notes, Melissa inserts drawings of cats, bears and kangaroos that hint early on about the art career she will pursue, pursue all the way to Italy. Into his letters, Andrew reveals his love of the law and of politics that suggests his future path in life, foreshadowing his role as a Senator and the possibility of even a presidential nod. This poignant interchange of heartfelt, sometimes silly, often loving, communication spans five decades.
For tickets ($22-81), call The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Let Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal share the intimacies of Melissa and Andrew so beautifully, expressing how he spent his whole life trying to rescue his lost princess. Perhaps you will be inspired to pen your own love letter in honor of Cupid’s Day.