, Salem, MA


February 21, 2013

The value of friendship

Story of 'Love Letters' told through correspondence sent from childhood to adulthood

SALEM — “Love Letters,” which will be at Salem Theatre Company tomorrow and Saturday, is a play about two old friends, and it features two old friends in the leading roles.

Not only have the actors, John Archer and Patricia Zaido, known each other for years, but their parents were friends.

“They used to play golf together for many years at Salem Country Club,” Archer said. “They were old friends, generations ago.”

Archer, a businessman, philanthropist and supporter of the arts from Danvers, and Zaido, who ran the theater department at Salem State for decades and is now director of The Salem Partnership, are staging this performance to help support the Salem Theatre Company.

It’s a fitting project for the pair, because their friendship has always included involvement in local theater.

“The way I really came to know John was in the ’70s, when we first started the theater program at Salem State,” Zaido said. “When we were doing productions, before we had theater majors to take all the roles, John was one of the community people we used in plays. He’s a very talented man.”

Though Archer said his primary interests are singing and dancing, and he often performed in musicals at Salem State, he has appeared in “Love Letters” several times.

“It’s the story of being human, from joy to great sadness,” he said. “It’s really well-written. The more I see it and hear it, I realize there’s a reason this play has been around.”

For Archer, the play’s success is explained in part by the special value of old friends, people we have known for a long time and who also know us well.

“The constant they have is themselves,” he said. “That’s a lovely thing to have in life. There’s nothing more exciting than new friends, but nothing better than old friends — nothing more rewarding.

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