Michael Learned and Ralph Waite reunite to star in Love Letters at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.
TV viewers, of course, know Learned and Waite as the iconic patriarchs, Olivia and John Walton, for the decade long hit, The Waltons. Both are excited to be reuniting in the play about a lifelong relationship between two friends. "I think there are a lot of parallels between Michael and me and the two characters in the play," said Waite. "We have a deep friendship that's gone on forever."
Learned and Waite have performed Love Letters once before at a one-night charitable event and Learned has been looking forward to working on stage in Petrolia with Waite in the Pulitzer-prize nominated play Love Letters since it was announced last year. "I know a lot of people are coming to see Olivia and John Walton," Learned conceded. "However, I made it very clear a long time ago that I'm not Olivia." Waite adding, "The Waltons was just part of our live. I believe people have a genuine fondness for the two of us."
Considering the couple is so ensconced in the fond memories of younger days, it isn't surprising that tickets for VPP's Love Letters are selling as fast as they are and that Matinees are sold out
Love Letters tells the poignant story of the relationship of Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. He gets stuffier through the years. She gets more neurotic. "It really works," Learned said, warning that her character uses many lines that Olivia Walton would never use. "Let people know they will laugh, but it's more sophisticated humor." Love Letters by A.R. Gurney at VPP in Petrolia opened in previews Wednesday and Thursday, then runs until Aug. 26.
Learned will leave this production to start rehearsals for "The Outgoing Tide" and to appear as a key-note speaker at the annual California Womens Conference on Sept 23rd in Long Beach, Calif. (http://www.californiawomensconference.com/california-womens-conference/featured-speakers/item/michael-learned), while her on screen family prepares to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Waltons in Los Angeles at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Sept 29th. Among the scheduled guest are Florence Henderson, Jonathan Frakes, Bruce Davison, Lee Purcell and many more (http://waltons40th.com/).
Call 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca.
Pictured: Michael Learned and Ralph Waite at the release party of Mary McDonough's book "Lessons From The Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton." Photo credit: Courtesy of Mary McDonough.