‘Letters’ are a labor of love
Paddy and Jon Lynn, then and now
Black Box Theatre at Barrington High School, 616 W. Main Street, Barrington
7:30 p.m. April 26 and 28
Tickets: $10; $5 for students and senior citizens
Call (847) 842-6500
Updated: April 24, 2012 7:36PM
The family that does plays together stays together.
Happily for Jon and Paddy Lynn, he a teacher and actor, she a professional storyteller and actress, life does not imitate art. The first time they acted together was in college in an Illinois State University production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.” He was Claudio. She was Hero, whom he deserted at the altar.
The Lynns, residents of Mundelein, have been married for 34 years, and have devoted their lives to community theater and arts education. Their latest collaboration is a true labor of love. It’s A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters,” which they will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 26 and April 28 in the Black Box Theatre at Barrington High School.
The Pulitzer Prize-nominated play chronicles through letters read by the actors sitting by side the lifelong friendship between conservative Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and the more free-spirited Melissa Gardner.
The production is a special benefit presented by the Barrington High School Theatre Boosters. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Jon has taught theater and English at the school for 18 years. He is
retiring after this school year.
During his tenure, he inspired a Mr. Chips/Mr. Holland-type devotion in
his students. The department, under his stewardship, has been to the coveted Illinois High School Theatre Festival in seven of his
nine eligible years. Last weekend at an evening in his honor, his students surprised him with a show they wrote, directed and starred in, a series of sketches based in his office, which they painstakingly recreated onstage.
Paddy operates Paddy Lynn Storytelling, and performs one-woman shows, such as the acclaimed “Meet Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst.” She also brings “storyacting” to schools, libraries, summer camps, and birthday parties.
They are both members of the Kirk Players community theatre troupe in Mundelein. Jon, whose father founded the company 46 years ago, has been acting with them since he was 12. Paddy is also a member of the ensemble and serves as the company’s artistic director. Their last play of the season, the farcical “Lend Me a Tenor,” will be performed June 8 and 9.
“Love Letters” is dear to the Lynns’ hearts. “I always loved this kind of story,” Paddy said. “I love the fact that these two people develop a relationship early on so that no matter what happens in their lives they still connect with one another (through the letters) as if no time had lapsed. They communicate through these letters as if they were looking into each other’s eyes.”
Jon had heard of the play but as head of the theater department had always dismissed it, because the two-character cast would be a limited showcase for the students.
But six years ago, he said, he was invited to co-star with a former grad school colleague in a production of “Love Letters” for the Illinois High School Theatre Festival. “They wanted to show the students that some of their teachers were working actors, that they didn’t just teach this stuff, they did this stuff,” Jon said.
What is it like to perform “Love Letters” with his wife? “Magical,” he said. “This is not a play the actor should memorize. (As the letters are read) it should just unfold in the moment in front of the audience. That’s what makes it special. And working off of Paddy makes it much more special.”