September 8, 2010

Media Contact:  Susan Clark, Broadway Tonight, University of Central Oklahoma, (405) 974-2654, sclark22@uco.edu

FILM, STAGE, AND TELEVISION ACTRESS SHIRLEY JONES TEAMS UP WITH BROADWAY TONIGHT'S JON FINCH FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA'S PRODUCTION OF "LOVE LETTERS"

     The University of Central Oklahoma's Broadway Tonight series presents the Pulitzer-prize nominated play, "Love Letters," at 7:30 p.m., Sat., Sept. 25 in UCO's Mitchell Hall.
     The drama, written by A.R. Gurney, stars film, stage and television actress Shirley Jones and Broadway Tonight director Jon Finch.
     "Love Letters" is a two-character play, focusing on the lives of an older couple who sit at a table and read all the letters, notes, and cards they sent each other over a span of 50 years spent in separate lives, Finch said.
     Jones agreed to replace actress Betsy Palmer, previously scheduled to appear last month, who cancelled due to health problems.
     "Betsy was not quite up to performing and I was thrilled that Shirley agreed to take her place last minute,"  Finch said. 
     Jones has visited Edmond and appeared three times in UCO Broadway Tonight series productions-A Shirley Jones Family Christmas in 1998; A Centennial Salute to Oklahoma in 2007; and "Carousel, the Concert" in 2008.
     She met Finch when she appeared in a Broadway production of "Maggie Flynn" in 1963 and Finch was an assistant to the company manager for that show.
     The actress is well-known for her lead role as Laurey Williams in the 1955 Rodgers and Hammerstein film "Oklahoma!"
     Other leading roles followed for Jones including "Carousel," "April Love," and "The Music Man."
     But it would be a role as a prostitute in the dramatic film "Elmer Gentry," starring Burt Lancaster, that landed Jones an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1960.
     Younger generations remember her best as Shirley Partridge, matriarch in the television series, "The Partridge Family," which ran from 1970 to 1975.
      She has continued to win hearts in various television, film, and stage appearances, and was recently nominated for an Emmy for her guest role on A&E's "The Cleaner."
     Most people know Finch as the long-time director of UCO's Broadway Tonight series.
     In early years, he appeared as a clown for Ringling Brothers, and then hit the road with Broadway tours, working behind the scenes in publicity and promotions.
     A native of Bartlesville, he returned to Oklahoma to the Northeastern State University campus under the direction of President Roger Webb, and helped create a community entertainment series, The Sequoyah Institute.
     When Webb moved to Edmond as president of UCO, he asked Finch to join him and create the Broadway Tonight series.
     Over the last 12 years, Finch has brought such performers as Jones, Carol Channing, Ed Asner, John Astin, Lucie Arnaz, Carole Cook, Betsy Palmer, Debbie Reynolds, The Fifth Dimension, The Lettermen," Melissa Manchester and Paul Williams, and Broadway tours including "42nd Street," "Sweeney Todd," "Hairspray," "Fosse," "The Full Monty," "Hello, Dolly!," and "Titanic."
     For tickets to "Love Letters," call UCO's Mitchell Hall box office at (405) 974-3375.

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