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Walt Willey Media > Theater: Swept up in love for 50 years

13 Mar 2013


Theater: Swept up in love for 50 years

Katt Gravatt and Walt Willey co-star in the Island Theater Company's production of 'Love Letters.'
Katt Gravatt and Walt Willey co-star in the Island Theater Company's production of 'Love Letters.' / marcoislandflorida.com
Written by Don Manley


“Love Letters” at the Island Theater Company, March. 14-17, Rose History Auditorium, 180 S. Heathwood Drive. Cost: $25 general admission. Go to TheaterOnMarco.com or 394-0080.

Actress Katt Gravatt found herself swept up in the emotions, all-too-real triumphs and tragedies and the intimacy of the play “Love Letters” after her first thorough perusal of the script.

“It’s just a beautiful piece,” said Gravatt, of Marco Island. “I had no idea.”

The Island Theater Company brings the two-person, Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama back to the Marco stage this week at Rose History Auditorium, 180 S. Heathwood Drive.

The production pairs Gravatt with Walt Willey, the former star of the ABC soap opera “All My Children,” who has been a regular part of the annual SoapFest charity fundraisers on the island for years.

Gravatt has appeared in numerous productions on Marco and in Naples, including “The Odd Couple,” “MacBeth,” “Always Patsy Cline,” “Steel Magnolias,” and most recently, “Les Liasons Dangereuses.”

Willey portrayed Jackson Montgomery on “All My Children” for 25 years until the ABC soap left the air in 2011.

A.R. Gurney's “Love Letters” was previously staged here Jan. 30-Feb. 3.

Gravatt said she was engrossed in the Naples Players’ production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” last October and November when she was asked to audition for “Love Letters.”

“I had no idea what the show even was,” said Gravatt. “I just knew I wanted an opportunity to work with Walt.”

50 years

“Love Letters” centers on two characters, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner, and follows their journey from childhood friends to teen-aged lovers who go their separate ways as adults, while still remaining in touch.

Their stories are told through notes, letters and cards in which they discuss their hopes, ambitions, dreams and disappointments over 50 years.

As Willey has said in an earlier interview, “They (the two characters) read letters each wrote to one another. They don’t interact much. It’s just so intimate and it’s such an intimate setting that the audience is that third person on stage, which I think is fascinating. I really, really like it.”

Gravatt said she auditioned before reading the script and after being offered the role.

Following the close of “Dangerous Liaisons,” she was able to give the play an in-depth read.

“To be honest, I couldn’t visualize it because I had never done a play that was basically a reading,” said Gravatt. “I fell in love with the script. There’s something very personal about a letter. Nobody writes letters anymore.”

“When I read it, I found that the language was just wonderful,” Willey said. “Once I saw Katt in ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ (last fall at the Naples Players), I just thought she was perfect for this role. When you have somebody to work with that requires you to run to keep up with her, it becomes even more exciting.”

Gravatt said she and Willey make a great pair on stage.

“We’re really nicely balanced to bring out the quality of the story,” Gravatt said.


Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Marco Island Historical Society Gift Shop, 180 S. Heathwooe Drive; Centennial Bank, 615 E. Elkcam Circle; online at theateronmarco.com or by calling 394-0080.

Group discounts are available. To reserve seats for a group of 10 or more, call the box office, 394-0080, to make reservations and receive 10 percent off on your order. Student groups receive additional discounts.