‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ star returns to stage in closing weekend of Steel Beam Theatre fundraiser

In the 1990s, producers brought Rikki Lee Travolta to Chicago to headline the romantic stage comedy “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.” As the groom, the handsome leading man became famous for exchanging vows on a nightly basis.

Now one of Chicago’s core theater critics, Travolta has put down his writing instruments and taken the stage himself again in “Love Letters” as a special fundraiser for Steel Beam Theatre.

This weekend, Travolta will be headlining the final performances of a limited engagement of A.R. Gurney’s romantic masterpiece “Love Letters” to raise money for Steel Beam Theatre in a time of crucial need.

“Steel Beam Theatre needs a little extra love and tenderness right now in the form of financial support, and seeing a top-tier production of one of modern time’s best romantic scripts being performed by two of the area’s premier talents is one way people can do that,” explains managing director Catie Early.

Although “Love Letters” marks a rare stage appearance by Travolta these days, he is a former national headliner who has thrilled audiences around the country in such productions as “West Side Story,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” He still makes occasional film appearances, winning the Best Actor Award in the prestigious 2023 Midwest Film Festival for his starring role as The Amazing Ron in the dark comedy “The Sleight” from director Ben Kurstin.

Joining Travolta in the two-person drama is acclaimed Chicago actress Deborah Swinford. The Shakespearean-trained actress first performed opposite Travolta in the Tennessee Williams classic “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” two decades ago at the historic Woodstock Opera House. “Love Letters” marks their first onstage reunion in all the ensuing years.

“Like the characters in ‘Love Letters’, Deborah and I have enjoyed a lifelong friendship. It is an honor to be sharing the stage one more time with such a talented and giving performer,” says Travolta.

The Pulitzer Prize finalist play presents soulful interpretations of a lifetime’s worth of love letters between two entwined souls — beginning when they were just children and culminating at the end of their lives. The production is helmed by Regina Belt-Daniels, who won the 2022 Heartstrings Award for her direction of “I Hate Hamlet” at Elgin Theatre Company.

Recognizing the importance of Steel Beam Theatre’s contributions, a number of sponsors have stepped up to help produce the fundraiser including sponsors Kimmer’s Ice Cream, Generation Tux, Entertainability Group, and Laura Orrico Public Relations. Additional marketing assistance has been provided by John Olson Communications and revered Chicago arts administrator Joseph Keefe has assisted with fundraising efforts.

“The project to help Steel Beam Theatre and the St. Charles community is the culmination of so many generous souls giving their time and talents to a worthy cause. It is really not to be missed,” says Travolta. “You will be touched. You will be moved. You will be enlightened.”

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1-3.

To purchase tickets to benefit Steel Beam Theatre in its time of need visit

Steel Beam Theatre is located at 111 W. Main St. in downtown St. Charles. To reach the box office call (630) 587-8521.

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