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'84, Charing Cross Road' at The Phipps

“84, Charing Cross Road” follows the extraordinary true story of the relationship between New York writer, played by Jennifer Alton, and a London antiquarian bookseller, played by Andrew Troth. The play premieres Friday, Jan. 18 at The Phipps. Submitted photo by Larry May

"84, Charing Cross Road," a charming, bittersweet comedy, will be performed Jan. 18 through Feb. 3 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. as well as Sundays at 2 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts.

Director Mary Cutler notes, "Helene Hanff is an unfortunately-little-known writer of what has been defined as 'light comedy,' in the vein of Dorothy Parker, Jean Kerr, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron. Do not overlook the fact that the writers of this genre were women, less heralded in the literary canon—not only for their gender but for writing this genre. Thankfully, these women writers are revered in popular culture notably for the joyous illustrations of humanity they bring us. Our production of Ms. Hanff's charming, sentimental work hopes to tickle us, as well as touch our hearts.

"Beyond the charm and sentiment of Hanff's famed tale, this work more importantly illuminates 'the written word's power to sustain us, to transport us, and to unite us.' This phrase, written on a book jacket of Hanff's 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street,' provides the utmost reason to produce this text: its illustrations of reverence for the great thoughts and writings of humankind. Through this reverence, Hanff seems to emphasize that our communal study of cultural thinking and writings is a pursuit which encourages understanding among people, like the connections she found at Marks and Co.

"Hanff is best known for television screenplays for programs, including 'Playhouse 90,' 'The Adventures of Ellery Queen,' and 'Hallmark Hall of Fame,' as well as children's literature; later works include 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury,' 'Q's Legacy,' and 'Underfoot in Show Business.'"

Tickets are $26 for adults and $19 for students of any age, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees, for this production in the Black Box Theater.

Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715-386-8409 or online at www.ThePhipps.org.