Make ‘Love Letters’ A part of your Valentine’s Day weekend

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
Carol-Ann Black (left) of Southgate and John Sartor of Canton Township perform as Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” Feb. 14 to 16 with Big Girl Productions at Biddle Hall in Wyandotte.

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By SUE SUCHYTA
Make “Love Letters” part of your Valentine weekend as Big Girl Productions offers three performances of A.R. Gurney’s play Feb. 14 to 16 at Biddle Hall, 3239 Biddle Ave. in Wyandotte.

The 6 p.m. Friday show includes a dinner buffet with dessert for $32 per person or $60 per couple. The 6 p.m. Saturday show features hors d’oeuvres and dessert, and the 2 p.m. Sunday show brunch offers a buffet, with each priced at $23 per person or $40 per couple.

Tickets sales are presale only to allow for an accurate head count. For tickets or for more information call 734-282-5230 or 734-287-9979.

Directed by Jackie Sweeney of Lincoln Park, “Love Letters” features Carol-Ann Black of Southgate as Melissa Gardner and John Sartor of Canton Township as Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, two people who maintain a lifelong correspondence.

Their letters begin when they are children and navigate through their teen years and into adulthood, from age 7 to 55, through passionate and turbulent times as well as periods of joy and humor that reflects the value of their friendship.

Sartor said when he read the script he immediately loved it.

“Emotionally it goes through every spectrum,” Sartor said. “It goes back to the art of writing, and how important writing is. Nowadays I do way too much texting and emailing as a way of communication, but then when I read the script it reconnected me to the fact that writing really is the true way of communicating for many people.”

Black explained that the female character is an extrovert who has no trouble expressing herself in person to others, while the male character is more introverted and comes alive through his letters.

She said the two characters have more trouble expressing their true selves to each other in person, whereas in their letters they are truly themselves.

Black said the letters also span a very turbulent time.

“It goes (from) right before World War II all the way through all the civil rights movement, the women’s lib movement, and they are (on) two separate paths,” Black said. “He is sort of like this conservative, staunch Republican and she’s like the bleeding heart liberal Democrat artist Bohemian. So it’s very interesting.”

Sweeney said the female character comes from a dysfunctional, wealthy family, yet the money is not enough to make her happy.

Sartor said the show is well written, and intense while still funny.

“Throughout all the intense things that are going on throughout this piece of theater there is enough humor to keep things alive but yet people are getting the message of how much these people really loved each other,” Sartor said.

DEARBORN TEEN PLAYS COWARDLY LION FOR PROJECT DAYDREAM’S ‘THE WIZARD OF OZ’
Benjamin Timpf, 18, of Dearborn plays the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” Friday through Sunday with Project DayDream Inc.

Friday and Saturday performances are at Congregational Church of Birmingham, 1000 Cranbrook Road in Bloomfield Hills. The Friday show is at 7 p.m., with 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday shows.

The Sunday show is at 1 p.m. inside the ballroom of the Townsend Hotel, 100 Townsend in Birmingham.

Timpf said if he could travel to Oz in real life, he, like the lion he plays, would ask the Wizard for more courage.

“Life brings so many challenging situations,” Timpf said. “I would love to have more courage to pipe up and speak my mind, instead of being worried what people think of me.”

For ticket pricing and more information about the performance venues and offerings, go to www.projectdaydream.org.

MAGENTA GIRAFFE PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF ‘A PLAY BY FRANCO VITELLA’
A show inspired by a playwright’s fears of writer’s block, lack of vision, and a director, actors and crew hampered by the same inspired “A Play by Franco Vitella.”

The show opened Friday and runs Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 22, with one Sunday performance at 3 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company of Detroit, at the Abreact Performance Space, 1301 W. Lafayette, No. 113, in Detroit.

Tickets are $15 to $18, with “pay what you can” options available for all performances. To reserve tickets, call 313-408-7269, or go to www.magentagiraffe.org. The staff strongly recommends reservations for the intimate venue.

The unusual piece breaks down theatrical barriers by blending characters with their real-life counterparts and examining the role of writers, actors and even audience members.

“The play was born in my own struggles with writer’s block and the countless unfinished drafts I’ve started, only to abandon after a few pages,” Vitella said. “I then thought about how when it comes down to it, an audience gathering to see a play is sort of a strange thing.

“Even more strange is the fact that actors shed themselves to become other people for a few hours and as a playwright, I have control over what they say and do. I wanted to take the theatricality of it all, director and actors, the audience, myself and throw them into this experiment to see what happened.

Directed by Jonathan Davidson, the cast includes Keith Kalinowski of Ypsilanti, Artun Kircali of Novi, Alexis Mabry of Detroit, Joel Mitchell of Berkley, Holly Portman of Hamtramck and Adam Schrader of Rochester.

DETROIT SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENTS ‘THE TAMING OF THE SHREW’
Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” opened Thursday at the Elizabeth Theater at the Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave. in Detroit.

The show, in association with the Detroit Shakespeare Festival, runs Fridays and Saturdays through March 1, with a closing 1:30 p.m. March 2 Sunday performance.

Tickets are $20. To order, call 313-454-1286 or go to www.parkbardetroit.com or www.detroitshakespearefestival.com.

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