She was television's most famous five-letter-word-rhyming-with-"rich"; he was Zorro the Gay Blade. Together, Joan Collins and George Hamilton have been in San Francisco the past two weeks, reading A.R. Gurney's epistolary comedy-drama, Love Letters, at Marines Memorial Theatre.
The two-character play, which previewed April 11, opened April 12 and ends April 23, chronicles the lives of East Coast childhood friends Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner through letters they exchange throughout the decades following World War II.
The work was popular Off-Broadway with rotating casts, had several national tours (Richard Kiley and Lauren Bacall, Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers) and remains popular regionally for its small cast. It's a favorite of benefit organizers who can lure specialty casts such as married couple Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter, who performed the piece in Washington DC this past summer.
Collins, who starred in the film "The Bitch," played (arguably) the world's most famous mega-bitch on TV's primetime serial, "Dynasty." She also starred opposite Simon Jones in a 1992 Broadway revival of Private Lives. Hamilton played dashing leads and dastardly villains on TV, until filmdom found his goofier side in such comedies as "Zorro, The Gay Blade" and "Love at First Bite."
John Tillinger directs the Marines mounting. Other works by Gurney include Far East and The Cocktail Hour. For tickets ($30-$50) and information on Love Letters at Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street, call (877) 771-6900.
-- By David Lefkowitz