Two weekends of dinner-theater in Waupaca
By Robert Cloud
Two related plays will be performed the weekends before and after Valentine’s Day at the Green Fountain Inn in Waupaca.
“Love Letters,” a drama written by A.R. Gurney, is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 4-6.
“Hate Mail,” a comedy by Bill Corbett and Kira Obelinsky, is set for 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Feb. 19-21.
Tickets are $30 per person and may be purchased from cast members or the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Each show is preceded by a dinner with salad and entree. Dessert is served during the play’s intermission.
Water and coffee are available at no extra charge. The Green Fountain Inn’s wines and beers are available for purchase.
Seating is limited to about 30 people per show.
Holly Saunders, who is directing both plays, says the inn’s intimate setting is perfect for the intimate nature of the plays.
A 1990 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “Love Letters” centers on two characters, Melissa and Andrew. They sit at a table and read nearly five decades of correspondence, sharing their hopes and dreams, disappointments and failings, over the course of two separate lifetimes.
“It seems like a long game of cat and mouse that ties these two people together,” Saunders said. “It shows their evolving maturity as they grow from children to adults, their changing priorities and how life changes people, whether for good or bad.”
Noting that “Love Letters” has parts that are touching and funny, dramatic and sad, Saunders said the long-running play has paired major stars, including Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy, Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels, Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones, Katharine Ross and her husband Sam Elliott, and Alan Alda and Candice Bergen.
She describes “Hate Mail” as a parody of “Love Letters.”
“This story begins with a complaint letter from Preston to a tourist shop in New York City,” Saunders said.
The letter results in Dahlia, an angst-filled artist, being fired from her job.
“There’s some very negative correspondence that leads to a relationship, then out of a relationship, then back into a relationship,” Saunders said. “This play has not received any awards, but it’s darn funny.”
Saunders also noted that both plays are written for mature audiences and may not be appropriate for children.
A different pair of local people will read for each show.
“Love Letters” will be performed by Marcel Van Camp and Julie Neubauer on Feb. 4, by Tim Koll and Betty Manion on Feb. 5, and by Angie Landsverk and John Hammond on Feb. 6.
“Hate Mail” will be performed by Rocky Landsverk and Gretchen Kelley on Feb. 19, by Chris Wennesberg and Ashley Nigbor on Feb. 20, and by Todd Klismet and Lori Bauer on Feb. 21.
“I was looking for people from the community who are excellent readers,” Saunders said. “I like to stretch people and seeing them out of their element will be interesting for the audience.”
Saunders said the plays take about 90 minutes to be read. Guests should expect the total dinner/theater experience to last about three hours.
The Green Fountain Inn is a bed and breakfast located at 604 S. Main St. It is handicapped accessible.