Theatre Convivio Love Letters poster

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Theatre Convivio presents it’s Valentine’s Day benefit production for 2014: Love Letters by A. R. Gurney.  Starring OSF Veteran Dee Maaske and, in a rare appearance, longtime television, stage and screen actor Jon Cypher.   This benefit performance runs for four shows only, over Valentine’s Day weekend.

Play description

A tender and beautiful monument to a lifetime of love and friendship between the two main characters, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, Love Letters is an intimate reading presented with a two-person cast.

The two main characters are seated at their writing tables, reading the notes, letters and cards which they have exchanged over the course of nearly 60 years.  The reading serves as a record of a lifetime of hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, victories and defeats.

A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was initially presented by the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut in 1988.  Many notable actors and actresses have have played the two main roles, including: Barbara Barrie, Philip BoscoStephen CollinsVictor GarberJulie HarrisGeorge GrizzardAnthony HealdGeorge HearnRichard KileyDana IveyWilliam HurtMarsha MasonChristopher ReeveHolland TaylorGeorge SegalChristopher WalkenJoan Van ArkTreat Williams, and Frances Sternhagen.

On October 31 that same year, a Broadway production opened at the Edison Theatre, where it ran for 96 performances. It opened with Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards.  Other performers paired in the Broadway production included Lynn Redgrave and John ClarkStockard Channing and John RubinsteinJane Curtin and Edward HermannKate Nelligan and David DukesPolly Bergen and Robert VaughnTimothy Hutton and Elizabeth McGovernSwoosie Kurtz and Richard ThomasElaine Stritch and Cliff RobertsonNancy Marchand and Fritz Weaver, and Robert Foxworth and Elizabeth Montgomery.

Actor bios:

Presenting Dee Maaske as Melissa Gardner

A native-born Marylander now living in Ashland, Dee Maaske has performed in professional theater all over the United States, Europe and the Middle East. She most recently appeared as the mayor’s wife in the Randall Theatre’s production of Steel Magnolias.  Mid-season in 2013, Dee took over the role of Mrs. Higgins in OSF’s musical adaption of My Fair Lady.

At the conclusion of these readings, Dee will leave Ashland to begin rehearsals for Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles at the Capital Stage Company in Sacramento, California, which opens March 15th and runs thru April13th, 2014.

Dee is more than a little excited to be reading with her pal Jon Cypher and hopes this benefit performance will encourage and support the growth of regional theatres, such as Theatre Convivio here in the Rogue Valley.

Presenting Jon Cypher as Andrew Makepeace Ladd III

Born in New York City, Jon Cypher has starred in numerous movies, TV series and Broadway shows and co-starred in many more.  Memorable roles include his debut in the original 1957 production of Prince Charming, starring opposite Julie Andrews.  He played Chief of Police Fletcher Daniels in Hill Street Blues. Commanding General Marcus Craig in Major Dad and Dr. Alex Keith in As The World Turns.  His stage credits include the roles of both Dr. Carrasco and Don Quixote  in the original 1965 cast of Man of La Mancha.  Cypher also played Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon in the original production of Tennessee Williams‘s The Night of the Iguana as well as El Gallo in The Fantasticks.