KEN LUDWIG'S DEAR JACK, DEAR LOUISE Set to Open July 21
VIRGINIA THEATRE FESTIVAL TO PRESENT KEN LUDWIG’S DEAR JACK, DEAR LOUISE
Opening Friday, July 21 at The Helms Theatre
Heartwarming World War II Love Story Tells Story of Courtship Conducted Entirely Via U.S. Mail
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – June 29, 2023 – The Virginia Theatre Festival, the professional summer theatre at the University of Virginia, will present a love story for the ages with Ken Ludwig’s Dear Jack, Dear Louise, opening July 21 at the Helms Theatre.
The production will be directed by Jeffrey Meanza and will star Suzannah Herschkowitz and Jordan Sobel.
The Helen Hayes award-winner for 2020’s Best Play, Ken Ludwig’s Dear Jack, Dear Louise is a love story for anyone who has ever been, or even dreamed of being in love. Ludwig, The Tony Award-winning playwright (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) models the story after the courtship of his parents, U.S. Army Captain Jack Ludwig, a military doctor stationed in Oregon, and New York City-based aspiring actress and dancer Louise Rabiner, whose wartime romance was conducted entirely by mail. It’s a warm, funny, and thoroughly engaging love story told one letter at a time and signed, sealed, and delivered straight from the heart.
Suzannah Herschkowitz’s theater credits include roles in Dancing Lessons at The Public Theatre in Maine, Detroit ’67 at the Virginia Stage Company, Coriolanus, under the direction of Daniel Sullivan at The Public Theater, Surfacing at PCTF, and Blue Window at 29th Street Rep. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where she appeared in productions including Golden Boy, Three Sisters, Hamlet, Pranayama, Richard II, and Queens Boulevard. On television, she has appeared in The Blacklist, Evil, and The Last O.G., starring Tracy Morgan.
Jordan Sobel is a Brooklyn, NY-based actor, percussionist, fight designer, and teaching artist whose theatre credits include Barefoot in the Park at Gulfshore Playhouse, The Play that Goes Wrong at Pioneer Theatre Company, My Name is Asher Lev at Playhouse on the Park, and Disgraced at Asolo Repertory Theatre. His film and television credits include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon), Julia (HBO), The Village (NBC), and Paradise, FL (Tri-Force Pictures). Jordan holds an M.F.A in Acting from The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training at The Asolo Rep.
Jeffrey Meanza is the Associate Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theatre in residence at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has directed at the Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers Repertory Company, and Theatre Raleigh, among others.
Meanza said he was initially struck by how the play captures this blossoming romance by correspondence even given the complex realities of American life during WW II. “I loved the fact that through the use of letters,” he said, “the play focuses on this couple who are living through these incredible and unprecedented international political moments. The stakes are so high, yet through their words and their hearts they can create this intimate and beautiful love story.”
The play’s focus on letter writing allows us to see the characters in a different way, Meanza said. “No matter who the correspondents are, there is always a matter of craft and formality to the process, and it gives us an interesting look at how these two characters approach the world. Particularly at the beginning of the play, we see the rather formal reserve of Jack and the wry sense of humor and fierceness of Louise. Then we watch them charm each other with a degree of formality that was accurate to the time, but there is this playfulness throughout. They are not necessarily showing all their cards early, but we watch that ease as time goes on.”
Meanza is looking forward to mining the characters and the story with his actors. “Jordan is an incredibly physical actor, and I think we will be able to really use that in the storytelling. And Suzannah is such a facile and versatile comedian. She just sparkles, and I am so excited to see the two of them play off each other.
Audiences, he said, can expect more than a sweet love story, as they get to know two fascinating characters who remind us of what it was like to live in a very different America. “This play is a love letter to Ken Ludwig’s parents,” Meanza said, “but also to this golden generation, when people felt this national solidarity and were committed to values higher than themselves while believing in a greater good, and in possibilities for the future. There is something nostalgic about seeing this beautiful relationship emerge from these terribly difficult times, and I would like to think that might offer our audiences a sense of hope that they can take with them when they leave the theater.”
The Virginia Theatre Festival is a program of the University of Virginia and is supported by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts, UVA Department of Drama, and UVA Arts. The 2023 Virginia Theatre Festival is also supported by a generous grant from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
The Virginia Theatre Festival’s 2023 Membership Program offers patrons a chance to support VTF, while also enjoying exclusive benefits. For more information on ways to support the upcoming VTF season, visit virginiatheatrefestival.org/support.
Individual tickets for Ken Ludwig’s Dear Jack, Dear Louise and the full VTF 2023 season are currently on sale. Volunteer opportunities are also available this summer, and more information can be found here. To learn more about the Virginia Theatre Festival and its upcoming 2023 season, visit virginiatheatrefestival.org.