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July 14, 2000     Cape Gazette
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July 14, 2000

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76 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, July 14 - July 20, 2000 Actor John Ritter to appear in 'J for J'in Lewes July 17 By Rosanne Pack A father's secret journal to his children, discovered decades after they were penned, led to "J forJ," a dramatization of a family whose love and devotion helps them face all that life deals them. The journal, the father and chil- dren are all real, but the story is not unique. What might be unique is that actor John Ritter finds him- self portraying a character in that on-stage family, while his own family, in many ways, is a mirror image of the one in "J for J." The Ritters and the Sullivans were both theatre families, each had a child with special needs, each had a child that pursues a show business career. Many of the family dynamics are all but identical. "When Jenny asked me to read 'J for J' with the thought of per- forming it with her, I loved it," Ritter said, "but I was also struck by the common bond that our families share. There is some- thing in the piece that everyone can identify with, but it is also my life story.'" A fundraiser presentation of the Cape Henlopen Theatre Project, "J for J" is an adaptation of a jour- nal written by the late actor Barry Sullivan. The entries were ad- dressed to his two children, John and Jenny; however, the brother and sister never read the words he wrote for them until after his death in 1994. Once she found her father's jour- nal, Jenny Sul- livan was so caught up in the power and love it con- tained that she wanted it to live beyond the pages. She RITTER created a work that combines the actual journal with her own dialogue of experi- ences with her father and her brother. Ritter reads John Sulli- van, Jenny's mentally retarded brother, while the playwright is herself. Actor Bruce Davison reads the role of Barry Sullivan. "I am so excited about doing this," Ritter said. "I consider it truly an honor to work with Jenny in this piece. She is an amazing actress and director, and one of the most giving people anyone could know." Ritter said he was a friend of Barry Sullivan as well. In addi- tion to respecting the elder Sulli- van's work as an actor, the two shared a passion for the Los An- geles Dodgers. Ritter even knows the secret of some of Sullivan's ashes and left field in Dodger Sta- dium. The actor feels that anyone can enjoy and be moved by "J for J." He said audience response to pre- vious readings has been reward- ing.  "It has huge themes of family HTP opening night to benefit community center Henlopen Theater Project, in conjunction with Create a More Positive (CAMP) Rehoboth, Cel- sius Restaurant, the Rehoboth Beach Gayzette and the store Shore Haus, will host a benefit opening night performance of "Another American: Asking & Telling," 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 19, at Cape Henlopen High School's Little Theater. Other per- formances will be held at 8 p.m., July 20, 21 and 22. The show is written and per- formed by Mark Wolf, and pro- ceeds from this opening night per- formance will benefit the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Project. Continued on page 77 Full Service 5alan dr clothing Boutique B g rin vls Wel a Co!or [xper} Fridays & Saturdays Tuesday & Thursday 9-5 Wednesday & Friday 9-7 Saturday & Sunday 9-4 For an appoinlmen] (oH 227-0244 403 Rehobofh Avenue, Rehobofh Beach relationships and society in gener- al," he said. "It is also very funny. The audience gets to meet an in- credible family." Ritter said some who know the Sullivans tell him that his portray- al totally captures John Sullivan. For this, he credits Jenny's direc- tion and descriptions. "She laid it out for me," he said, "And, I can just hear Barry's voice as well, as we do this. "I feel so lucky to perform this in Delaware where people might not be as familiar with the Sulli- vans. I believe in the play and I believe in Jenny. It is fantastic to see people respond to it with the enthusiasm we feel in performing it." Ritter will be traveling to Delaware from Washington D.C. where he is just finishing a run of sold-out performances of the new Neil Simon play "The Dinner Par- ty." To support the Henlopen The- atre Project, he, Sullivan and Davison are donating their work for "J for J." "Of course, we are glad to do it," he said. "The arts are one thing that we have over auto- matrons or robots. The arts allow us to make a transformation; whether you are acting or in the audience. There is that lightning bolt of awareness when the actors and the audience members are taken out of themselves; where there is that realization that you are witnessing something not of yourself." Although Ritter has established himself as a star of television, movies and theatre, he feels that there is nothing like the theatre. "When you can feel the heat of the actors up there; when you can feel the love, or hate, of the audi- ence" he said. "People need that, and need to feel that they are a part of the creative effort." "J for J" is presented at 7:30 p.m., Monday, July 17, in the Cape Henlopen High School Lit- tle Theatre; the work is part of the Henlopen Theatre Project's New Works/New Voices series. Tickets are $30 for the show only; $40 tickets include a reception with the cast after the performance. For reservations or information, call 226-4103. Your Place For Beef And Seafood ALL YOU CAN EAT Snowcrab Legs, Crabs, Shrimp Both locations Daily Dinner Specials Karaoke 9-1 Every Thursday Live Bands Friday & Saturday Rehoboth LocaUon offers: Live Band Every Friday Night. 8:30-12 Nascar Sundays Happy Hour 1-7 Free Buffet & Prize Give-A-Ways Long Neck location Happy Hour. Sunday-Friday 3-7 with FREE BUFFET REHOBOTH 302-227-6700 LONG NECK 302-945-8900