Written By | Randi Riggs |
Anyone who cannot get enough drama wrapped up in a love story might just love this play by A.R. Gurney. Amarillo Little Theater presented Love Letters in March. The story, which goes on during a man’s and woman’s life, is brought together through a series of love letters written to each other starting from grade school.
Allen Shankles played Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, and Melissa Gardner was played by three women on alternating nights: Cindi Bulla, Anne Lankford and Lynaé Jacob, chairwoman of communications at Amarillo College. Jacob has degrees in speech and theater education. She also has won awards for many of her roles, including winning a ALTAs for Blood Brothers and Death of a Salesman.
“I have not played this role before, but I have directed another play by A.R. Gurney, The Wayside Motor Inn,” Jacob said. “I love the natural-sounding language that he masters.” Former AC student Michele Close attended the play when Jacob played the role of Melissa. “I really enjoyed Mrs. Jacob,” Close said. “I believed she was really the character. It was like she had the same personality as the character she played.”
The story begins between the two characters in birthday party thank you notes. After growing up a little, both are sent off to different private schools. The pair keeps in touch and carries on a relationship through adolescence. With Melissa coming from a wealthy family and Andy coming from a normal, everyday family, they are unlikely friends.
Soon the friendship turns into a romance, which is short-lived after both go to college. Their letters see each other through broken marriages, career changes, war, children and life problems. One leads an exciting life, travels, marries and has children, divorces and remarries.
The other, a bit more stable, goes through life with school, war, marriage and children and then is elected to the U.S. Senate.
The story may not end how most love stories end but is effective, with one death and an ending letter that puts all the feelings and stories together. Some might say Jacob’s performance satisfies the audience’s expectation. “Jacob shined brightly with an enthusiastic, entertaining and funny performance,” Close said.
Jacob has performed at ALT off and on since she was 10 years old. Her daughter, Jordan Jacob, said she likes seeing her mom perform. “I have never missed a show my mom has been in,” Jordan Jacob said. “She did Little Shop of Horrors when I was 2 months old. We had it on VHS tape that I watched as a kid. I love seeing her on stage.”
Jacob said the recent role wasn’t easy but that she was glad to see the audience response. “The role was challenging for me, and I was unsure how the audience would respond to a reader’s theater,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction.”