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Hotspots Exclusive Interview

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That iconic line sums up the emotion in the 1970 film Love Story, based on the novel by Erich Segal. Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal played the star-crossed lovers in that classic film, and now, 45 years after they made cinematic history, they will be reunited in the production of the A.R. Gurney play Love Letters.

The 50-year love affair between Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner plays out on-stage through the readings of letters one wrote to the other. Even though outside forces wanted to keep them apart, their love for one another endured throughout the decades.

Love Letters will be coming to the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale for a limited engagement. Opening night is Tuesday, July 21 at 8 p.m., with subsequent performances at 8 p.m. through Saturday, July 25. There will be two matinee performances, one on Saturday, July 25 at 2 p.m. and one on Sunday, July 26 at 1 p.m. The final performance of this special limited engagement will be at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26. Ticket prices start at $30 per person and can be purchased online by going to browardcenter.org or in person by going to the box office (201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale).

I had the chance to speak with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal in an exclusive Hotspots interview before they arrived in Fort Lauderdale. When I asked Ali MacGraw how she liked filming Love Story, and how she felt about reuniting with her former on-screen partner after 45 years apart, she told me, “It was a pure joy to work on Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and our wonderful director, Arthur Hiller, all those years ago. It remains one of happiest movie experiences in my career. I am very excited to have the chance to work with Ryan again: he will be superb in this part, and I look very much forward to our doing this project in various cities across the country. I doubt that our ‘chemistry’ will be any LoveLetter_copyless than it was when we made that film: I cannot imagine that it will have changed…I certainly hope not!”

“It’s blissful to be reunited with Ali,” Ryan O’Neal told me. “You’ll have to tell us how our stage chemistry compares. We premiere in Fort Lauderdale. We’re awfully curious and hopeful to see the response. We’re excited to explore the theatrical dynamic between us.”

“This is my first play,” he added.

“I had several opportunities to do Love Letters in different cities quite a long time ago, when it seemed that many actors were also performing it: it is a touching and lovely piece of theatre…a reading of letters between two people who have known each other for most of their lives,” Ali MacGraw said to me. “After its very successful run on Broadway with various pairs of exceptional actors, the producers offered to send Ryan and I on the road with it…and [we] were both very happy to accept. We have a marvelous director in Greg Mosher, and after a bit of rehearsing in New York earlier this year, I have to say that it feels as though the whole experience will be a very happy one. I am so glad that I was invited to do this, and particularly with Ryan. I find the writing and the whole piece immensely moving, and I hope our audiences will, too.”

“It was an opportunity to be with [Ali] again,” O’Neal added. “I was never able to forget Love Story. I still carry a torch.”

Considering the intimate and emotional subject matter, it seems perfectly natural to take your significant other on a date to see Love Letters. The two stars agree. “It’s a well written love story and they never fail,” Ryan O’Neal said. “People should not want to miss seeing a story about love; they can learn something.”

With a smile, O’Neal was quick to add, “Who else better to show you than us? This should reignite sparks for lovers of all ages; why else would we be doing it? We may age, but love will always keep us young.”

“I think that Love Letters can be a terrific ‘date night’ movie….at least for certain people,” MacGraw confessed. “It is rare that one knows couples who have known each other for nearly their whole lives, through all manner of ‘moments,’ always shared in letters. It is very romantic, but at that same time it has moments that are really funny and others that are quite sad: a whole life lived, a long and complicated, moving series of incidents and feelings and intimacies that are ultimately wonderful theatre. I think a lot of people will really relate to these two characters, and A.R. Gurney has written them beautifully.”

For more information on Love Letters with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, including where they will be performing after Fort Lauderdale, visit the tour website at lovelettersontour.com.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.