The eighth grade graduating class at Santa Monica’s Westside Waldorf School traditionally takes a class trip and this year will be heading to New York and Washington D.C. Their trip will be funded partially by money raised from three special performances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A.R. Gurney play Love Letters, presented the weekend of March 12 and 13. These performances will be unique in that each will feature a real-life married couple: Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy) and his wife Jenisa for the evening of March 12; Cameron Daddo (24) and his wife Alison for the March 13 matinee; and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Married with Children) and his wife Cathy for the evening of March 13.
The idea for the show and the casting was Cameron Daddo’s. As a father with kids who attend the 20-year old private school, including one child in the eighth grade class, “I felt that I wanted to do something for them so they can get the money for the trip.
“The reason I chose Love Letters is [that it’s] a journey between a male and a female starting when they’re in the first or second grade of school and tracing the lives of these two people to the end of their lives. I just felt like it’s a great metaphor for these kids who started together in nursery school and now they’ll be going away to high school—they’ll split up, it’s going to be quite a time for them.”
Daddo wanted to involve other actors whose children attend Westside Waldorf. Isaiah Washington’s child is in the same nursery class with Daddo’s youngest. “And his wife Jenisa is an extraordinarily generous woman.
“Ed O’Neill is a mate of mine. Our middle children are in the fourth grade together. I asked him to do it because his wife Cathy O ‘Neill brought Love Letters to him years ago and he promised he would do it with her but they couldn’t do it at the time so when I said ‘Would you be interested in doing Love Letters?’ he said ‘Absolutely!”
The play, Daddo pointed out, is simple: just two people on stage, reading letters to each other. “You wonder how effective that can be but it’s amazingly effective.” The idea of staging the play with real-life married couples from different backgrounds and ages should make for an interesting contrast, too.
“I’ve seen young actors do it and actors in their 60s. You’ve got Isaiah and his wife with their African-American heritage; my wife and I are both Australian, and Ed and Cathy—now Ed’s in his 60s—or maybe late 50s—there’s a more mature aspect.
“It’s beautiful, it’s funny and heartfelt. And having three couples- I’m going out on a limb here but I believe there’s about 50 years of marriage between us three couples.”
Love Letters plays March 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 13 at 2:30 and 7:30p.m. at the Performance Hall on the McComb Campus of the Westside Waldorf School, 17310 W. Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.westsidewaldorf.org.
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com