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Port Moody school trustee reprises role in 'Love Letters'

Zoe Royer, a former Port Moody city councillor, returns to Port Moody City Hall to portray Melissa in the popular stage production of "Love Letters."
Mike Arseneault and Zoe Royer reunite for "Love Letters" on May 11, 2024, at the Inlet Theatre in Port Moody.

A former councillor in Port Moody returns to city hall next month.

But not as an elected official.

Zoe Royer, a School District 43 trustee in Port Moody, is back in the Inlet Theatre to reprise her role as Melissa in the IOCO Players Theatre production of Love Letters.

Royer plays opposite IOCO’s artistic director Mike Arseneault, who portrayed Andrew when the company mounted its inaugural show at the legion in 2022 (with Melanie Scarcella and Jenny Norris also alternating as Melissa).

“It was very well received then,” Royer told the Tri-City News yesterday, April 18. “And it was a great experience, especially with Mike. He brings his heart and soul to the performing arts in Port Moody.”

Royer said she was “honoured, humbled and nervous” when Arsenault tapped her for Round 2 of Love Letters, a popular stage play by A.R. Gurney that sees Andrew and Melissa sit side-by-side reading the letters they’ve exchanged over nearly half a century.

In them, they express their hopes and dreams, as well as their disappointments and defeats.

“It’s the kind of play that’s really timeless and showcases the complexities of a relationship,” Royer said. “I think it speaks to the hearts and minds of everyone.”

Royer said she can relate to Melissa as she, too, has a creative spirit.

“She's kind of my alter-ego in a way. She’s quite dramatic and emotional and reactive. She’s very animated in her communication and she puts it all out there. She hides nothing. And she’s got this deep fondness for Andrew that keeps going — even though they live separate lives and she hates writing.”

“It’s pretty extraordinary to play a character who is really so vulnerable and yet everybody can relate to.”

But stage acting runs in Royer’s blood: Her mother’s mother was a playwright in the United Kingdom who taught her granddaughter to read fiction “if you want to know the truth, because you can learn about the characters’ inner thoughts, their heartaches, and their trials and tribulations.”

Still, while Melissa’s and Andrew’s words have meaning in Love Letters, it’s the silence in between — like waiting for a response back — that deepens the play, Royer said.

“There is a thoughtfulness that connects their actions. It’s like time is standing still,” she said. "It's really magic to witness."

There are two showings of Love Letters on May 11: a 2 p.m. matinee and a 7 p.m. performance at the Inlet Theatre (inside Port Moody City Hall, 100 Newport Dr.). Tickets are now on sale via TicketOwl.

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