January 14, 2009

Desi Arnaz Jr. to star in "Love Letters"

As reported by Becky Bosshart in The Las Vegas Sun:

As its title implies, "Love Letters" is an intimate look into the lives of two lovers who are always far apart, though on the stage they sit side-by-side.

The A.R. Gurney play is often performed as a benefit production, and in the past it has been staged by such film greats as Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones.

The Boulder City benefit production will be done by local star Desi Arnaz Jr. and Mary Crosby, best known in her role as the character who shot J.R. Ewing in the television series "Dallas."

Arnaz said "Love Letters" is the perfect benefit play because it can be produced at a low cost: it requires only two players — the characters Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. It also requires no memorization because the lines are read as letters and has a simple set design.

"Love Letters" plays at 4 p.m. Jan. 24 at Desi's Boulder Theatre, 1225 Arizona St. Tickets cost $40 and proceeds benefit the nonprofit Boulder City Ballet Co.

The play follows the lives of the upper class New York elite as World War II turns their world asunder. It has bittersweet love, dysfunctional families and that old-fashioned history that audiences love, said Arnaz, who starred in "Automan," a science-fiction series of the mid-1980s, and played his father in the 1992 movie "The Mambo Kings."

Arnaz said he is excited about reprising the "Love Letters" role — he performed it with Liza Minnelli about 15 years ago and with Linda Purl a decade ago — because of his history with Crosby. Their parents were friends and they spent time together as children. Arnaz is the son of television stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and Crosby is the daughter of singer Bing Crosby.

"We bring a certain amount of reality to it because of our history together," he said.

That doesn't include real love letters, he said, but a deep respect for one another's work through the years.

Tickets must be reserved in advance because it will be a sell-out performance, said Amy Arnaz, Boulder City Ballet Co. executive director. About 80 tickets are left in the 380-seat theater. After expenses, the company is expected to raise $4,000 for ballet programs. Call 293-1161 for tickets.

Next up for the theater is "An Evening with Lucille Ball," featuring impersonator Suzanne LaRusch, on April 10 and 11. The $30 tickets will also benefit the ballet company.

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