Intimate 'Love Letters' Benefit HJT Scholarship Program

By: Elizabeth Van Wye

Nina Schuessler and Lou Maloof in “Love Letters.” BOB TUCKER/FOCALPOINT STUDIO PHOTO


This Sunday, Oct. 22, for one afternoon performance only, the North Chatham home of Lou and Carole Maloof will be transformed into a performance venue. Lou Maloof and Nina Schuessler, Harwich Junior Theater Producing Artistic Director, will take on the roles of Andrew and Melissa in A.R. Gurney’s Pulitzer nominated play “Love Letters.”

The relationship between Andrew and Melissa unfolds in a series of letters, recording half a century of affection and missed opportunities during decades of personal and cultural change.

This production of “Love Letters,” which includes a reception with gourmet sweets and savories and fine wines following the performance, will benefit the Harwich Junior Theater Scholarship Fund, Schuessler said. She credits Maloof, a longtime volunteer, with coming up with the idea for the event.

Harwich Junior Theater offers classes year round, Schuessler said, and “for young families, it’s not always easy to afford the $200 for 10 weeks of classes.” Last year $6,000 in scholarships were awarded and no one is turned away for financial reasons, she said.

Schuessler particularly notes the importance of helping students, from preschooler to adult, to see the world through the “diverse lens of the performing arts.” She added, “Our lives are so screen filled that being able to communicate with others in a playful activity is so important. It’s as valuable as a team sport,” she stressed.

“Love Letters” is a lovely piece, Schuessler said, adding that the performance is not the first time the two have been on stage together. “Lou and I have acted together many times,” she noted. “He is such a great presence and voice and fun to work with!”

Maloof, who has been acting for decades on the Cape and in New York, where he lived for many years, calls “Love Letters” “a little masterpiece.” The show is staged very simply, as a reading with no props, just the words of the letters.

“As an actor it pulls the emotion out of you,” he said, “and makes you laugh and cry.” In fact, he admitted one of the toughest jobs he has in the play is “not crying at the end.”

Of Schuessler, Maloof says “we work so well together.” The production is directed by Tamara Harper. “It’s a joy to be involved with people so talented and generous.”

Maloof and his wife, singer Carole Maloof, have done benefits in their home before. However, this is the first in their new home at 29 Court St. in Chatham, with its view of the creek. “We love to entertain and Carole is cooking up a storm, making delicious stuff,” Maloof said with a smile.

Tickets for “Love Letters,” which begins at 4 p.m. are $75 and available by contacting Maloof at 508-945-5446. Admission is by reservation only.