If it hadn’t been for The New Yorker, A.R. Gurney’s 1988 play might have never made it to the Great White Way.
At the show’s Broadway opening on Thursday at the Brooks Atkinson Theater the playwright explained that he submitted the script to the publication in the 1980s for consideration. When he received a rejection note saying they “don’t publish plays” Gurney and his agent figured the editors were right and “Love Letters” was in fact a play.
A very low maintenance, cost-effective two-hander.
The two-actor cast — Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy — required only a table and two chairs. From there, with the text of the letters in front of them, the duo read the 90-minute epistolary tale of the lifelong correspondence between a man and a woman who may or may not be the love of each others’ lives.
“It felt different this time around,” Gurney said at the Brasserie 8 1/2 afterparty. “I made a couple little cuts (to the script) which I’ve wanted to do for years, so that made it a tiny bit shorter.”
As for acting from a chair with a script in front of you, Dennehy said it’s all about “not getting in the way” of the words.
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“We only started rehearsals last week,” he said.” It’s so beautifully written so you just help it along a little bit with the acting.”
Dennehy and Farrow are the first of a crop of big-name actors who will rotate in and out of the show in the coming months. Among the actors on board for stints in the show are Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen.
“It’s hard to find an actor 50 or older who hasn’t performed this play at a benefit of some sort,” said Farrow, who herself read the play with Sam Waterston at fundraiser years back. “This time around I can say I’m much more invested in the production.”