4 December 2018
On the evening of December 4th, having sold out shows in Los Angeles, New York, Hay on Wye, Venice and London, Letters Live closed 2018 in spectacular style with a one-off performance in London’s Oldest New Theatre.
Opened in 1875, Alexandra Palace Theatre was a home for spectacle and wonder. A marvel of Victorian engineering, its stage allowed actors to disappear and fly. Now, after 80 years of slumber, something’s stirring at Ally Pally.
The show had an all-star cast consisting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joely Richardson, Alison Steadman, Louise Brealey, Celia Imrie, Clarke Peters, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jordan Stephens, Simon Callow and Paul Ryan, with musical performances from Tom Odell.
Act 1 opened with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading a letter of her own, penned in 2007 as part of an anthology of new love letters entitled Four Letter Word. Chiwetel Ejiofor made his Letters Live debut reading a letter from Barack Obama to his daughters speaking of his pride for them. His final letter of the show was from John Steinbeck, delivering a timely commentary on the abundance of consumption. Also to take to the stage was Letters Live newcomer Joely Richardson, who read letters by Laura Dern, Paris Lees and Katherine Mansfield.
Tom Odell performed music throughout the evening and closed the show with the festive classic, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The night was in aid of Crisis at Christmas, ensuring homeless people across the country have a place to go and a meal to eat this Christmas. The donations made through this event enabled the charity to provide people with a Christmas dinner, a bed for the night, a chance to shower, freshen up and get clean clothes, a health check and treatment from a doctor, optician and dentist, expert help with mental health and addiction problems, advice on housing, employment and benefits, and a way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round training, education and support.
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Enough is enough
Marguerite Louise D’Orleans to Cosimon III De Medici
I see you, my beauty boy
Elizabeth Taylor to Her Missing Cat
It was hard to give five sons to the navy
Alleta Sullivan to Franklin Roosevelt
Know that you are loved
Dorothy Freeman to Rachel Carson
He is a lazy, ungrateful, loafing scoundrel
Sarah Jones to Stamford Advocate
You Babylonian scullion
Mehmed IV to Zaporozhain Cossacks
As we wait in joyful hope
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Emeka
Thomas Pendleton to Various
I am so proud of both of you
Barack Obama to Sasha and Malia
A strange species we are
John Steinbeck to Adlai Stevenson
For your first Christmas
Walter Page to His Grandson
Robert Southey to Grosvenor Bedford
This is not a letter
Katherine Mansfield to Leslie Beauchamp
Paris Lees to Her Father
The story comes from within you
Laura Dern to Her Daughter
Picture the scene
Rik Mayall to Bob Geldof
Your ever loving daughter
Louisa May Alcott to Her Mother
The sacrifice is not in vain
Maude Fisher to Mrs. Hogan
We did it, Mother!
Gertrude Ederle to Her Mum
Composer for nitwits
Erik Satie to Jean Poueigh
Christmas with all its ancient horrors
Raymond Chandler to Jamie Hamilton
The greatest musical pleasure
Charles Baudelaire to Richard Wagner