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"Love Letters" Kicks off Theater Season at SUNY Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (August 22, 2008) - The theater department at SUNY Plattsburgh presents Dr. Tim Palkovic and guest actor Leslie Simons (Hearn) in a one-night-only performance of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" directed by Derrick A. Hopkins of Keeseville.

The performance is on Friday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hartman Theatre, Myers Fine Arts Building on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. Audience members are invited to a "Meet the Actors" reception following the play. Leslie (Hearn) Simons

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance at the Angell College Center information desk. Prices are $5 for the general public; $4 for seniors, students, SUNY Plattsburgh faculty and staff; and $2 for SUNY Plattsburgh students.

A smash hit both on and off Broadway, "Love Letters" has been performed in theaters large and small throughout the world. The story traces the lifelong correspondence between the dutiful lawyer and politician Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and the free-spirited artist Melissa Gardner. Through the reading of heartfelt and revealing letters, the story of their bittersweet relationship gradually unfolds - from what is written and what is left unsaid.

"I was drawn to this piece for its beauty and simplicity. One might think two people not interacting and only reading past letters to be boring. However, the words that A.R. Gurney has given us are funny, heartbreaking and eternal. This piece is about human connection, human needs, but most importantly, about love," explains Hopkins.

Palkovic agrees. "The themes of love are universal, and it is the pain of love's disappointments that forms the core of this unique and imaginative play."

While the spare form of reading letters is very efficient, the public may wonder how two people sitting and reading letters depicting another era could make for such an engaging performance. Many references to North Country locations add interest, and the political campaign that sets up part of the story is timely during the current presidential campaign season.

Ultimately, Gurney's interest is in the personal: giving voice to letters that were once private.

"The play is a little like viewing etchings. Though the sweep of time is as grand as when taking in a heroic canvas, the emotions are intimate - personal enough to be held in one's hand," says Palkovic.

Simons who plays Melissa was last seen as Adult Bo in the Depot Theatre's production of "Off The Map." She was also seen on SUNY Plattsburgh's stage playing Nellie Forbush in a concert version of "South Pacific."

Simons' regional credits include the "The Wizard of Oz" (Wicked Witch), "Sylvia" (Kate), "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (Maggie), "Cabaret" (Emcee), "Steel Magnolias" (Truvy), "West Side Story" (Action), and "Chicago" (Velma). She was a featured dancer in several revue shows in Atlantic City casinos.

In addition, Simons was a Cagelle in the original Broadway production of "La Cage Aux Folles" and helped choreograph the London production. She also performed in "When We Are Married" at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn.  Additionally, she stage managed the Willsboro Drama Club production of "The King and I."

Simons studied and performed improvisation for several years with Gary Austin in Los Angeles.

For more information, call the Performing Arts Event Information Line at 518-564-2283.

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