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Actors share 'Love Letters'

October 09, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

"Love Letters," A.R. Gurney's two-actor play about a 50-year relationship between friends, will be presented at the Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg, W.Va., at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.

In a way, art will be imitating life.

David Selby and Susan Sullivan will star in the production. The actors are longtime friends, stars of the 1980s television series "Falcon Crest." Selby portrayed Richard Channing, and Sullivan played Maggie Gioberti Channing.

Sullivan also recalls having a role on "Dark Shadows," on which Selby portrayed Quentin Collins from 1968 to 1971.

She played a ghost with a sheet over her head.

Selby doesn't remember that, though.

Both actors have performed in "Love Letters" previously. Sullivan played opposite William Devane and Leo Buscaglia; Selby at the Pasadena Playhouse with Donna Mills.

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"We haven't had an opportunity to work together," Sullivan says.

"I just thought it would be terrific if we could do something," says Selby.

The opportunity presented itself in a performance to benefit the Apollo Theatre and Main Street Martinsburg, an organization dedicated to promoting and revitalizing downtown Martinsburg, says Becky Linton, the group's treasurer.

"Lincoln and James," Selby's play, being reworked for film, was the subject of a reading at the Apollo several years ago. The actor was part of a leadership symposium in June in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and also read some of his poetry, another Main Street Martinsburg benefit.

Linton says she took Selby around town, and he told her he wanted to do something to help - "something big," he said.

A West Virginia native, Selby is fond of the state's Eastern Panhandle and wants to help the town's little theater and its downtown.

"All this needs to be saved," he says.

He's looking forward to his visit, to working with Sullivan and taking her and her mother sightseeing - to Antietam National Battlefield, to Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Both actors - who have long lists of theater as well as television and film credits - say they love "Love Letters."

Sullivan laughs that she identifies with her character, Melissa Gardner, who has been described as a "lively, unstable artist."

Selby's Andrew Makepeace Ladd III - the actor calls him "Andy Ladd" - is a "staid, dutiful lawyer."

"Love Letters" is the story of two people who loved each other, and "it never worked out," Selby says; their paths cross again. The story is told in letters written through the years.

"It's moving and funny," Selby says.

"Without sounding Pollyannaish and icky," Sullivan says, one of the greatest pleasures at this point in her career is to do something with her craft that is part of her.

"Love Letters" is a "splendid piece of theater," Sullivan says.

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