Hollywood stars Barbara Eden and Barry Bostwick brought the spirit of Valentine's Day to Kutztown University's Schaeffer Auditorium on Feb. 13.
Eden became a household name playing the title role of the 1960s iconic television series "I Dream of Jeannie" and Bostwick achieved fame as Brad Majors in the cult classic film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
They were in Kutztown for one night only to perform A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters."
The Pulitzer Prize nominated play is about two characters Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. After they meet in grade school, they begin corresponding through letters which trace their entire lives over 50 years; from childhood to when they become adults with families of their own.
Although they start out as friends, they soon discover that they like each other more than friends and try to pursue a romantic relationship. For one reason or another, they seem to have issues coming to terms with the way they feel about each other which puts stress on both their friendship and romance... and makes them question the life choices they have made along the way.
Eden, dressed in fire red from head to toe, and Bostwick, wearing a smart suit, lit up the stage with their acting abilities. This play is unique because the actors do not memorize their lines but rather read them while they sit next to each other at a table. Eden and Bostwick transformed into the characters they were portraying with each letter read.
It seemed as if the audience traveled with them on their life journeys, through their good times and bad. There are a few twists in the play which I won't reveal here, but if you like character studies and aren't familiar with the play you should definitely check it out.
A.R. Gurney, the writer of the play died in 2017. Although it has been performed many times by different actors, one of the things I noticed is the way the characters communicate is different than how people talk today. When this play was originally written there was no Internet or cell phones. Bostwick as "Andy" talks about the importance of writing letters, something kids in my generation do not really get a chance to do anymore.
Eden as "Melissa" talks about how the phone is faster than writing a letter. Can't they just text? Oh, that's right. There was a time when texting didn't exist. Some of the ways in which boys and girls act toward each other today is much different, too but the one thing that is still the same and one of the messages of this play, at least for me, is how important it is to have a good friend who is always willing to listen to what's going on in your life.
Following the performance, the lobby of the auditorium filled with conversations of theater goers about the work of Eden and Bostwick. Eden has a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Bostwick has won both a Tony and Golden Globe. Both have appeared in feature films, on television series, and stage and their careers span multiple decades.
They continue to make new memories for fans of all ages, including kids who are just discovering their talents. Eden is the voice of "Empress Caliana" on Nickelodeon's animated series "Shimmer & Shine", and Bostwick is the voice of "Mayor" in the Disney movie "Incredibles 2."
To cap off the night,Schaeffer's Little Theatre was decorated with larger-than-life hearts and warm glowing red lights to celebrate Valentine’s Day. There were a few lucky fans who had the chance to attend a special post-performance meet and greet event with the stars of the show.
One fan brought what can only be described as a very real looking genie bottle for Eden to autograph, while someone else talked with Bostwick about the music of "Rocky Horror."
Valentine's Day can be celebrated with cards, candy, or flowers, but if you're really lucky you just might get to see a great stage play with two Hollywood stars at a wonderful venue in Kutztown.
Rodeo would like to thank to Bryan Zellmer, Director of KU Presents for being super, awesome, and cool!
Kid reviewer Rodeo Marie Hanson, age 12, Fleetwood, contributes entertainment columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.