Beginning Feb. 11, Sacramento gets a week-long dose of all-star Love Letters, starting with original cast-members Joanna Gleason and John Rubinstein. The duo, who played in Letters at CT's Long Wharf Theatre world premiere in 1988, have since gone on to theatre acclaim, Gleason, a Tony winner for Into The Woods, Rubinstein winning an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for co-directing and starring in Counselor-At-Law at L.A.'s Interact Center in 1995.
Gleason & Rubinstein's one-night appearance, as lifelong friends Melissa Gardner and Andrew Ladd III, is just the beginning of a star-packed week at Sacramento Theatre Company on H Street in downtown Sacramento. Feb. 12 matinee brings Tippi Hedren (Hitchcock's 1963 film, The Birds) and “Dynasty's” Madison Mason to the stage, while that evening, Pete and Mrs. Wilson -- that is, the Governor and first lady of California -- will do the honors.
Nick At Nite fans won't want to miss Feb. 13's line-up: Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson, better known as - YES!!! - the Professor and Mary Ann of TV's “Gilligan's Island.” Television remains the theme as Friday night, Feb. 14, is billed "Cop Night," because the stars will be Leslie Eastbrook (of Police Academy film fame) and Erik Estrada, of CHiPS renown.
Broadcast news will be the theme of Saturday's matinee, as local newscaster Jennifer Whitney pairs with Ed Asner, forever known to TV audiences as curmudgeonly Lou Grant on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its character-titled spin-off.
Saturday night brings Sally Struthers, the All In Family legend who recently toured with Grease!, coupled with Avery Schreiber, the moustachioed half of 1970s comedy team, Burns & Schreiber. Finally, the all-star week wraps up on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 16, with Beverly Garland, who played the mom on both My Three Sons and Scarecrow And Mrs. King; and the man who may have given A Chorus Line one of its most famous lyrics: Troy Donahue, 1950s movie star.
The reason so many name actors are able to do a one-night stand of the show is that Love Letters is structured like a staged reading. Both characters sit and read letters to each other -- freeing the actors from both memorization and blocking.
Tickets to any of these evenings are $35 each -- $15 extra if you want to stay afterward for a champagne reception. Sacramento Theatre Company, a professional resident theatre, is being co sponsored for this special engagement by Chevron Companies. For information on Love Letters, which is helmed by L.A. director Luke Yankee, call (916) 443-6722.
--By David Lefkowitz