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Harold & Stella: Love Letters

comedy · stella! productions · Ages 13+ · United States

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Review by SHARI BARRETT

June 25, 2014

My overall impression

Being a descendant of Eastern European immigrants who loved the Yiddish theater in New York at the turn of the 20th Century, what a treat it was to learn Stella Adler’s parents were stars from that wonderful period of theater history. Film clips after the play introduced Stella Adler as a real person, showing her in her element teaching theater to future generations of actors.

But the most impressive thing about this production was the brilliant acting by the father-daughter team of Bill and Arianna Ratner as Harold Clurman and Stella Adler. The two sat on stools and read love letters between the two lovers who were living on opposite coasts during World War II. The real lovers were presented as total opposites: he was Hollywood street-wise and she NYC high society. But their love was deep and their mutual respect for one another totally evident in their writings.

The selection of letters allowed us to see the real people behind the words thanks to the two actors listening and reacting silently with deep emotions as each read their own letters. It was easy to see how Harold would have reacted to reading Stella’s letters and she his.

The show offers a look into the lives of two creative people totally committed to their work as well as a snapshot of what it takes to make a relationship work during difficult times.

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