Limelight offers 'Love Letters'

Naples' has a new addition to the dramatic arts' scene: Limelight Productions.

Its next performance, "Love Letters," written by noted playwright A.R. Gurney, will feature Carole Fenstermacher and Val Kuffel, who will be remembered by theatergoers for their recent performances as Joe and Kate Keller in Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," performed last season by the Naples Players.


"Love Letters"

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5

Where: the auditorium of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Tickets: $12 at the door.

Information: 643-5051

Gurney, whose career as a novelist and playwright now spans nearly a half-century, is perhaps best known for his 1988 Broadway production of "Sweet Sue," which starred Mary Tyler Moore and Lynn Redgrave.

"Love Letters" follows the lifelong romance of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner — two precocious, wealthy, spoiled, narcissistic people. The pair, though they go their separate ways as adulthood dawns, nonetheless are revealed to be soulmates in their correspondence, which begins in childhood and continues throughout adolescence and into adulthood.

The intimate scale of the auditorium of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (it seats approximately 200 persons) should be perfect for this one-hour production, as the lives and feelings of the two characters, played by Kuffel and Fenstermacher, are revealed through their stream of letters.

Fenstermacher, who joined Naples Players in 2001 and previously worked with the Aurora Players in Buffalo, says she and Kuffel had wanted to do "Love Letters" ever since they first met during "All My Sons."

"For some reason or another, we have a tremendous onstage chemistry," she says, adding that people have stopped them after shows and said: "You two act like you're the oldest married couple in the world."

In "All My Sons," Kuffel's character kills himself, so "we would end up ... just sobbing our hearts out," Fenstermacher says. The other day in rehearsal for the also-tragic "Love Letters," she says, they started cracking up: "What is this? We always end up in plays where we end up sobbing."

But the play is more than a tear jerker. Fenstermacher says it also has a happy message: "A declaration of love that might not have come otherwise; it's the realization of love."

Fenstermacher, whose day job is as a manager at the Conservancy, has been featured in Limelight's first two offerings, "Backwards in High Heels" and "A Child's Christmas in Wales," as well as "A Little Night Music."

Kuffel's acting credits include the role of Mr. Upson in the Naples Dinner Theater's production of "Mame" and Grandpa in the Naples Players' "You Can't Take It With You."

Local attorney Jack Houton, who has produced and directed numerous plays at other local venues, has been the driving force behind Limelight Productions. He says his goal is to bring diversity to the dramatic arts in this community, and said the company will focus on one-night-only events.

© 2005 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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