‘Hate Mail’ to open BART season at Dickens

The Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) will be kicking off its 2015-2016 season next week, opening with “Hate Mail,” a comedy by Bill Corbett and Kira Obolensky.

The play will open Thursday, Sept. 17, with tickets costing $25 each, and will run on Sept. 17-19 and Sept. 24-26 on the Dickens Parlour Theatre stage in Millville. The parlour doors will open at 7 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s interesting how they wrote this play — he sent her a letter,” said Jeff Martini, who will be playing the male lead in the show. “The idea was, ‘We’re going to write a play. I’m going to send you a letter, you send me one back, and I’ll take that and go with it.’ They’re both really clever, sharp writers.”

The story follows the relationship between Preston and Dahlia through their correspondence.

“It’s a rollercoaster relationship that goes from hate to love and back again, many times,” Martini said with a laugh. “It’s like a lot of relationships…

“It starts out very innocently. A fellow buys a little knickknack in a gift shop in New York City and when he gets home, it’s broken. So he writes and asks for a refund. The lady in the gift shop says, ‘Sorry, no refund.’”

The back-and-forth escalates, and soon the two are determined to stick to their guns, each to spite the other.

“It just gets crazier and crazier, and they find love and start to fall for each other,” said Martini. “I always think of it as, when you have two magnets that have opposite ends — they want to pull together, but then they start pushing each other apart. That’s how I visualize this play.”

Martini stars alongside veteran BART actress Heidi McNeeley, who was last seen in “The Time Collector” and “Good King Succotash.”

“I feel honored to share the boards with her,” said Martini.

Opening night will be extra exciting, said Martini, because the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce will be holding an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for BART. This season, BART will present six full theatrical productions.

“They’re genuinely excited about what we’re doing, because it plays well into their mission, in terms of providing opportunities throughout the year.”

Martini encouraged all lovers of comedy to attend one of the shows and enjoy a wonderful night of local theater.

“It’s funny, because the audience will understand and recognize all the ways the relationship can go, because they’ve probably been in those,” he said. “I don’t want to give you the ending, but it all plays out.”

For more information about “Hate Mail” or upcoming BART productions, or to reserve tickets, call (302) 829-1071. Tickets may also be purchase online by visiting www.dptmagic.com. To learn more about BART, visit www.facebook.com/BARTinBethany. Dickens Parlour Theatre is located at 35715 Atlantic Avenue, just east of the Creekside Plaza in Millville.