L.A. Loves ‘Letters’

A.R. Gurney’s play “Love Letters” has just begun its 10th month at the Canon, and the little play is continuing to do big business, with $2,666,864 racked up so far.

“Love Letters,” which features a weekly rotating two-person cast and bare-bones production values, has done the nearly impossible in L.A. theater – become an event. The show regularly pulls in repeat viewers who come to see tv and film stars on stage.

With scripts in hand, duos such as Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara, Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Lee Remick and Tom Skerritt, Valerie Bertinelli and Judd Nelson, and Carol Burnett and Leslie Nielsen have pulled in upward of $80,000 a week.

The show recouped its initial investment of $200,000 in 12 weeks and is now looking toward its one-year anniversary in April.

Though production credits are few, operating costs remain high, about $45,000 a week, with a full-time casting director and several offstage people who keep a frenetic schedule to find new stars and fill upcoming weeks. There’s also the cost of bringing in stars from far away – they flew Gazzara in from Rome (to date he’s done three weeks with Rowlands, the last one breaking all house records with nine perfs over New Year’s, grossing $87,472).

Show usually is booked five to six weeks in advance.

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