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Arseneault, Royer reunite for 'Love Letters' in Port Moody

"Love Letters" starring Mike Arseneault and SD43 Trustee Zoe Royer kicks off the 2024 season for the IOCO Players Theatre. The show coincides with Mother's Day.

Larry Hagman played Andrew to Barbara Eden’s Melissa.

Charlton Heston was cast opposite his wife Lydia Clarke.

Robert Wagner toured the play with his spouse Jill St. John and later with his Hart to Hart co-star Stefanie Powers; Ryan O’Neal was also on the road for productions with Ali McGraw.

And James Earl Jones appeared in it with Elizabeth Taylor for a benefit.

Love Letters is a show that nearly every professional actor has taken on in their career.

And, to time with Mother’s Day, a theatrical duo in Port Moody will remount their version of the famous play following sold-out performances in 2022.

Then, the IOCO Players Theatre made its debut with three events at the Port Moody legion featuring founder Mike Arseneault as Andrew and three actresses alternating in the role of Melissa: Melanie Scarcella, Jenny Norris and Zoe Royer, a city councillor at the time.

For the 2024 edition, Arseneault is returning with Royer — now a School District 43 trustee — for matinee and evening events on May 11 at the Inlet Theatre at Port Moody City Hall.

Tickets are now on sale via TicketOwl.

Penned by A.R. Gurney, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play opened off-Broadway in 1989 with Kathleen Turner and John Rubinstein, sitting side by side at tables and reading notes, letters and cards to each other over the course of 45 years.

It’s a touching piece about love and friendship spanning nearly five decades, Arseneault told the Tri-City News today, March 22.

“I love the simplicity of it,” he said. “It’s not a showy show. It’s two people reading letters back and forth. You find out what happens to them over the years … It’s a perfect piece of theatre.”

In fact, Arseneault loves the play so much that he’s portrayed Andrew nine times at venues in Canada and the United States; this summer, he’ll be in an Oregonian production of Love Letters.

Arsenault said the beauty of the show is it doesn’t require a lot of preparation. As well, the script offers a lot of clues for directors about the actors’ body language and the silence in between their words, to add emphasis.

“You see the progression of the characters as they grow old. People slow down and think about what they’re saying and what opportunities they missed. It’s very meaningful and there’s an incredible sense of compassion.”

As for teaming up with Royer for Love Letters 2.0, Arseneault is excited as he says Royer possesses the same kind of creative spirit as Melissa.

And though their characters’ lives span back to the Second World War, “they have relatable situations regardless of whatever era we’re in.”

Love Letters is the season premiere for the IOCO Players Theatre. The next shows are at the Inlet United Church (2315 Spring St., Port Moody):

  • Love: A Musical Theatre Concert
    • June 13–15 and June 20–22, 2024
  • Nuts
    • Oct. 17–19, 2024
  • Miracle on 34th Street
    • Nov. 14–16 and Nov. 21–23, 2024