929 West Sprague Avenue
Spokane, Washington 99201
from the production benefit the Spokane Civic Theatre
December 28-29, 2001
Andrew Makepeace Ladd III
Written by: A.R.Gurney
Directed by: Marilyn Langbehn
Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and
Melissa Gardner, both born to wealth and position, are childhood friends
whose lifelong correspondence begins with birthday party thank-you notes
and summer camp postcards. Romantically attached, they continue to
exchange letters through the boarding school and college years—where
Andy goes on to excel at Yale and law school, while Melissa flunks out
of a series of “good schools.” While Andy is off at war, Melissa
marries someone else, but her attachment to Andy remains strong and she
continues to keep in touch as he marries, becomes a successful attorney,
gets involved in politics and, eventually, is elected to the U.S.
Senate. Meanwhile, her marriage in tatters, Melissa dabbles in art and
gigolos, drinks more that she should, and becomes estranged from her
children. Eventually she and Andy do become involved in a brief affair,
but it is really too late for both of them. However Andy’s last
letter, written to her mother after Melissa’s untimely death, make it
eloquently clear how much they really meant, and gave to, each other
over the years—physically apart, perhaps, but spiritually as close as
only true lovers can be.
The Spokesman Review
September 20, 2001
Oscar and Emmy winner Patty Duke jumps at the chance to star in
Spokane Civic Theatre benefit performances of 'Love Letters'
Coeur d'Alene's own Oscar and Emmy winner, is no stranger to A.R.
Gurney's two-person romantic comedy, "Love Letters."
performed it years ago with my husband (Mike Pearce), who is not an
actor, per se," she said. "He is actually a firefighter,
per se (laughter). We did it as a fund-raiser for the Lake City
Playhouse and it went very well except that I felt my husband was
upstaging me. So I told him I would never do it with him
But she had
no hesitation at all in agreeing to appear in it with Jack Phillips, the
executive director of the Spokane Civic Theatre.
she said she felt "redeemed" by the offer.
have to understand how this came about," she said. "I
was supposed to do 'Our Town' with the Civic Theatre (in the spring of
2000). Then I got a terrific paying job, a TV movie, that I had
to do. But I thought Jack would never talk to me again. He
was very gracious when it happened, but I thought, 'Why should he
talk to me again?'"
So she was
delighted when Phillips proposed the idea as a fund-raiser for his
theater. And besides, she said, the timing was perfect.
needed to work for awhile," she said.
Her last TV
project was called "Love Lessons" (not to be confused with
"Love Letters"), the drama she shot in June 2000 in lieu of
"Our Town." She likes having time off, but not that
much time off.
want to have three months off, maybe four, and then I want a job, and
then I want another three months off," she said.
live appearance on stage was in 1999 in the Civic Theatre's "The
Glass Menagerie," directed by Phillips.
only do my stage work in Spokane!" she said. "I tell
you, I am so attached to 'The Glass Menagerie.' I have such
fantasies about where we could go and what we could do with it. I
think we took an approach that was very unusual for that play. Who
would expect to go to 'The Glass Menagerie' and laugh a lot? My
greatest fantasy of course would be to take it to Broadway."
Her role in
"Love Letters" will be considerably less demanding than the
role of Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie." The
play is structured as a series of letters, written over a period of
decades, by a man and a woman who were in love with each other from
afar. Each character sits at a table and reads their
letters. It requires no memorization.
"According to the author, he doesn't even want a lot of rehearsal,
if any," said Duke. "We have chosen to read it through
just once, just so we can say all the words in a row, and tonight
(Monday) we'll do a tech rehearsal."
comes at the end of what was intended to be a quiet summer for Duke and
her family. It didn't work out that way.
"Instead, our daughter got married at our house here in Coeur
d'Alene," said Duke. "Charlene graduated from USC-Santa
Cruz just three weeks before getting married. She's a
molecular-cellular biologist now working in a laboratory in Santa Cruz
where they are desperately trying to cure Alzheimer's. I said,
of August was devoted to the Kootenai County Fair, which is the favorite
event of their son, Kevin, 12.
since Kevin was 5, he fell in love with that fair," she said.
"We made it our business that every August would be dedicated to
Kevin and the fair, and so far we've upheld our promise."
started her own business this summer: Patty Duke Collectibles, a line of
small teddy bears. She started off by trying to learn how to make
teddy bears herself, but she soon discovered that she was "better
as the front man than the bear-maker." The bears are sold
over the Internet and at collectible bear shows.
And she had
one other adventure this summer.
were invited to Michael Jackson's concert at Madison Square
Garden!" she said. "I couldn't figure out
why. When the man called, I said, 'Seriously, this is my husband
doing a joke, right?' And he said, 'No, Michael specifically asked
that we call you.' I said, 'Michael doesn't even know me!'
And he said, 'Well he knows who you are, and he's read your
books.' So I said, 'All right, we'll come.'"
So she went
to New York City two weekends ago, and she had a great time.
like a 10-year-old," she said. "I'd never been to any
kind of rock concert and I was agog, rubbernecking, and looking at all
of the celebrities."
of course, just a few days before New York was changed forever.
After the terrorist attacks, Duke said she and the Civic contemplated
whether it would be best to cancel "Love Letters."
said the tenor of the play, while it makes no comments about today's
situation, is about the deepest kind of love, and that's a lesson that
is always worth hearing. And besides, why cancel?
one of the firefighters said, 'Hey, if you fall down, you dust yourself
off and keep on going,'" she said. "That's an actual
fire rule. And I don't know how else to do it, do you?"
So the show
will go on. And it already shapes up as a fund-raising success for
nervous when they said we were going to do it in such a big
theater," said Duke. "I thought, 'Wouldn't it be
embarrassing in my hometown not to sell a lot of tickets?'"
not have worried. A third show has already been added on Sunday
because of demand.
The Spokesman Review
September 20, 2001
'Love Letters' Draws Duke Fans
isn't merely a local draw.
At least 11
members of a Duke fan club are flying in from across the country to
attend all three performances of "Love Letters" at the Fox
Theater this weekened.
all coming just to see our favorite star," said Bill Jankowski, 21,
a student at Widener University in Chester, Pa. "We've been
planning this for three months now."
be flying in from Detroit, Chicago, Orlando, Fla., San Jose, Calif.,
Portland, Seattle, and New York.
is the president of the Official Patty Duke Webpage, Mailing List and
Newsletter. He organized the trip through the mailing list, which
includes some 70 people.
the exception of a few of us, none of us have met one another,"
said Jankowski. "But some of us have become wonderful
Internet friends over the years, all thanks to our love of Ms.
be a rare chance to see her live on stage. In addition, the group
plans to rent a van and see various Duke-related sites, including
locations for her TV show, "Amazing Grace" and her home in
to get a chance to get together with her--most have met her before on
various movie locations--although Jankowski said nothing has been
arranged. The website and mailing list are done with permission of
Duke and her husband.
said the recent terrorist attacks won't deter them from flying to
Spokane. In fact, he said it made the trip more important than
ever to them.
all really need this right now, especially after what happened last
week," said Jankowski.
he's been a Patty Duke fan ever since he was 10-years-old and saw her in
her autobiographical TV movie, "Call Me Anna."
"Something just clicked in my head after that," he said.
"She is definitely one of the sweetest people alive."