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Storefront sends its audiences ‘Love Letters'

Do people still write love letters?

In the age of e-mailing and texting, I wonder.

At our house, there are two shoeboxes that seem to surface every time we move. One contains my letters to my bride, the other her responses. They bridge high school, college and my Navy days, both before and after we were married.

Some are written on notebook paper, some on stationary with embossed fraternity crests or college logos. If nothing else, they serve as a chronograph of mankind's march from fountain pen through the Parker T-ball Jotter era to the arrival of the Bic.

Our children think of them as “Box O'Laughs.” Passionate declarations of love for one another interspersed with the minutia of daily life in the '60s never fail to bring forth gales of laughter.

“Dad, I can't believe you would write anything that cheesy” just makes me smile. If it weren't for those “cheesy” letters, I think to myself, you wouldn't be here. Then the boxes get stashed, until the next move. We keep old love letters to remind us of how we felt when we fell in love in the first place.

“Love Letters,” by A.R. Gurney, is the first play that will be presented by the Storefront Theatre for the 2008-2009 season. The play will be performed at 8 p.m. Sept. 27, and again on 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28 in the auditorium at the Museum of the Waxhaws.

The Saturday night performance will be followed by an “elegant reception,” according to Storefront Theatre Artistic Director Judy Simpson Cook.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to. Judy described it as “a beautiful play” that lends itself perfectly to the reading stage format of the Storefront Theatre. The story is told through letters written by Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepiece Ladd III, the play's only characters. The letters begin in elementary school and chronicle the growth and separate lives of the two.

For this production, Melissa will be read by Judy Simpson Cook and Andrew by Melvin Faris. When Judy first contacted me about the play, she wrote, “The Parkwood High School Drama Club of 1966 is back!” Knowing that the two principals attended high school together adds an extra dimension to the play, as does the fact that they are longtime friends. I requested high school yearbook photos, but they demurred, thank you very much.

Judy and Melvin follow a long line of celebrated actors who have performed this play. Online at Wikipedia, I learned that women as diverse as Colleen Dewhurst, Carol Burnett, Stockard Channing, Swoozie Kurtz, Polly Bergen, Elizabeth Taylor, Sissy Spacek and Sigourney Weaver have all performed as Melissa.

Among the men, William Hurt, Christopher Reeve and George Segal played Andrew off-Broadway, followed over the years by Jason Robards, Mel Gibson, Brian Dennehy and James Earl Jones, to name just a few. I don't think “Love Letters” suffers from type-casting.

Productions at the Museum of the Waxhaws are a treat. The auditorium is comfortable, intimate and the perfect size to allow the audience to appreciate a play such as this one.

A short side note on the reception that follows the Saturday night performance: While it's not mandatory, the Storefront Theatre invites the audience to “dress up.” I feel compelled to define terms here.

You are invited to wear clothing a bit fancier than what you might don to go to the grocery store. (I still remember going to a Christmas dinner party in Charlotte where the invitation said “dress up.” Three couples came dressed formally, and one showed up in tatters as Bob Cratchit and his wife.)

Whether you chose to dress up or not, reservations are suggested. Call the Storefront Theatre at 704-243-7283 for tickets and information, or go to their Web site, www.thestorefronttheatre.org.

Cake auction

A Waxhaw family has a 2-year-old son who is suffering from a rare form of cancer, called neuroblastoma. A group is having a cake auction today to raise funds for the family.

The cake auction will be at 1:30 p.m. at Waxhaw Bible Church. For more information, call the church at 704-843-4514.

Flag retirement

On Thursday, Patriot Day, the seventh anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, the Museum of the Waxhaws is honored to present a flag retirement ceremony, hosted by Cub Scout Pack 53 and American Legion Post 208.

This ceremony will include American Legion Post Color Guards, an invocation, military personnel, singing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” bagpipes, a 21-gun salute and a fly-by.

For details, contact: Sharon Murrer at 704-843-1832 or visit www.museumofthewaxhaws .com

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