"Love Letters"

Bill and Judi Rodman are returning to the stage for a special, one-night-only performance of “Love Letters.”

You might cry at “Love Letters,” the Oro Valley Theatre Company performance staged one night only, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at The Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley.

You’ll laugh. You’ll recognize universal truths about love, ambition, friendship and loss. You’ll have your emotions moved, “if we do it right,” said Judi Rodman, who joins husband Bill in the Pulitzer-nominated A.R. Gurney play.

“It’s a love story,” she said. “And like a lot of love stories, it has ups and downs.”

“Love Letters” is a dramatic reading between two characters, Melissa and Andrew, following their lives for more than 50 years through letters they write to one another. The letters begin in the first grade, wind through adolescence, and dive into the hopes, dreams, challenges and disappointments of two very different yet entwined lives.

Judi’s character has “a wild, adventurous side. She’s pretty out there.” Bill’s character is more proper, building a law career and winning election to the U.S. Senate. 

“Can they make it, under these circumstances?” Judi said.

“It is exceedingly well-written,” Bill said. “There’s a lot in it, things that are said and heard throughout a lifetime, because it is truly a lifetime.”

“Love Letters” has been performed by many of the greatest American theatrical couples, some of them wed in real life. That’s the case Feb. 13; Bill and Judi met in a play 45 years ago, and have been married 43 years.

“The fact we’re married is not as important as the fact we’ve known each other for a long time,” Bill said. “You start at a place. We have a history. We trust each other, at a higher level, and certainly on stage.”

“We are not actually these people,” Judi said, and there are moments “we have to use inner resources from other experiences” to create the feelings required on stage.

The Rodmans have performed “Love Letters” twice before. This third time, “we’re finding new things we didn’t find previously,” Judi said. “There is foreshadowing, from early in the play.”

“Each actor brings his own interpretation of lines,” Bill said. “There’s lots of opportunities to emphasize this or that.”

For Bill, a member of the Oro Valley Town Council, “the nerve-wracking part is performing in front of friends “who are probably skeptical” of his abilities on stage. Bill played the leading role in “Our Town,” directed by Judi in the Oro Valley Theatre Company’s inaugural production last year.

There is higher purpose to this performance. Judi founded the theatre company, and the Rodmans want to build “a sustainable theatre company in Oro Valley,” Bill said. 

“This is one way I can help raise money,” he said. “This is important as members of the community. I want to see this arts resource thrive.”

Judi said her husband’s remark “is typical of his character in the play.” 

“His goals are community- and civic-minded,” she said. “He is always trying to do the right thing. She, unlike me, tries to do what feels good, as opposed to what’s the right thing.”

Bill and Judi enjoy rehearsing together at home. 

“It’s a thing to do together,” Judi said. “It’s a little gift to each other.”

They share the gift on Valentine’s Eve, Wednesday, Feb. 13.

That’s not all. Auditions are slated for “The Fantasticks,” the late April musical production by the Oro Valley Theatre Company.

Hopefuls should be prepared to sing from the show, and to read from the script at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, at Leman Academy, 12255 N. La Cañada Drive, or 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at The Gaslight Music Hall, 13005 N. Oracle.

For more information, email ovtheatrecompany@gmail.com 505-1856. Judi Rodman directs the play April 24, 25 and 28 at The Gaslight.

Dave Perry is the President and CEO of the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Oro Valley Theatre Company Board.

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