Can two people who’ve never met fall in love?
At Northlight Theatre’s production of “Dear Jack, DEAR LOUISE,” that’s exactly what happens. It’s a true story penned by the story of playwright, Ken Ludwig about his parent’s courtship.
Their fathers played matchmaker and encouraged the two young adults to become pen pals. U.S. Army Captain Jack Ludwig, a military doctor stationed in Oregon, begins writing to Louise Rabiner, an aspiring actress, and dancer in New York City.
Through letters, their only method of communication they share their hopes and dreams as well as their daily lives. But as the war elevates and Captain Ludwig gets shipped off to Europe, it seems as if these star-crossed lovers will never meet.
The dialogue is snappy with plenty of laughs thrown in and the music takes the audience back to a time of great uncertainty and hopelessness.
Starring as Captain Jack is Casey Hoekstra who must convey a range of emotions, while not trying to scare off Louise or himself. Hoekstra does an outstanding job keeping his feelings in check and not showing his true emotions. Yet he expresses a sense of duty in trying to save as many lives as he can, and is angry about not knowing where the war will take him. Sarah Price is adorable as Louise who is frustrated in her career as an actress before she gets her big break. Then she must ultimately decide what she really wants to do.
Kudos to costume designer Izumi Inaba for the authentic costumes of the era and to set designer Yeaji Kim for the clever backdrop showcasing the thousands of letters the two characters wrote.
Directed by Jessica Fisch whose own family history of separation mirrors the play, she moves the characters around the stage with great precision as they dictate their letters to each other. Clearly, this is a story she understands.
“Dear Jack, DEAR LOUISE” is playing at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie through August 7. For tickets, go to northlight.org. Check out the website for information about the other five shows in the series.
Northlight Theatre is under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans.
Covid protocols are still in place and masks are required throughout the performance.