World War II comedya timeless ‘family’ affair

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    By SARALEE HUNTSMAN

    The Hale Center Theater has produced another terrific romantic comedy this season with the 1944 play “Dear Ruth.”

    “If you want to see one of the finest vintage pieces of American romantic comedy — this is it,” said Richard G. Wilkins, the play’s director.

    “Dear Ruth” takes place in the middle of World War II and is the story of a teen-aged girl who writes to soldiers overseas to boost their morale. However, she signs the name of her beautiful, older sister Ruth, and includes Ruth’s picture.

    Ruth is engaged to marry Albert, the man she has been pursuing, when Lt. William Seawright takes a short leave from the war to return home and marry the girl from his letters. Ruth is suddenly caught between two men, one she has never met, and must decide to choose fate or Albert.

    Wilkins’ wife played the role of the mother.

    The cast has performed “Dear Ruth” before and clearly work well together. Ironically, many of the cast members are from one family and have the same last name of the characters in the play. Wilkins said working with the cast has been more like a reunion and party than strict rehearsals.

    Wilkins also played the role of the father in the play and did a fantastic job over-reacting to what his younger daughter had done. “I didn’t have to prepare for my role — it’s my life,” Wilkins said.

    Ruth Hale, the founder of HCT in Salt Lake and Orem, made a cameo appearance as the maid. She was a delight to watch and truly added to the performance.

    “Dear Ruth is a story that won’t surprise anybody, but it is so well done that watching the execution of it just keeps the audience in stitches,” Wilkins said. “It’s something that will make everybody in the family laugh.”

    “Dear Ruth” is playing through March 31. Performances are every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 3:30 p.m.

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