Dear Jack, Dear Louise, Ken Ludwig’s charming tale of his parents’ courtship during World War II, is a rom-com which just opened at Northlight Theatre with a happy ending that brightens spirits and brings laughter and tears.

It describes how courtships slowly blossomed before the Internet, social media and a 24-hour news cycle.

Those old enough to remember writing letters with paper and pen might find it interesting to see this show with a friend or relative from Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012.

Casey Hoekstra as Jack and Sarah Price as Louise at Northlight Theatre.

Although the details differ between then and now, there is a timelessness to Jack and Louise’s struggles, dreams and passions that is immensely relatable. The director, Jessica Fisch, acknowledges in the show notes, “War has separated millions of loved ones and continues to do so every minute of every day.”

“What makes this play urgent for me now is its hopefulness,” said B.J. Jones, artistic director at Northlight, in the show notes. The play was written by Ludwig before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and premiered at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 21, 2019. Jones observes, “seen through the lens of this moment, it is more resonant and timely than I could have imagined.”

The two-act play has two actors, Casey Hoekstra as Jack and Sarah Price as Louise, and they shine here with palpable chemistry.

There is one set for the entire show in Yeaji Kim’s set design. Jack’s spare army desk on one side of the stage and Louise’s cluttered but homey room, in a boarding house for women in the theater, on the other. The talents of Izumi Inaba, costume designer; Jackie Fox, lighting designer; and Eric Backus, sound designer, add flair to the production.

The two actors share the stage for most of the performance, yet they never look at or acknowledge one another, which slyly builds the sexual tension between the characters.

Their story traces their relationship through their correspondence, starting with a formal hello at their fathers’ behest through the ups and downs of slowly learning to trust someone living thousands of miles away whom they’ve never met.

Even though the audience knows Jack survives the war, the letters he writes from Europe after D-Day and during subsequent battles still add fear and foreboding, which Louise emotes. 

Ludwig has said in many printed interviews that his parents were happily married for 50 years and these letters are based on his recollections of family lore, not the actual letters.

Before she died, his mother burned all of the letters she had meticulously saved. Ludwig suspects they were too intimate or revealing for her two sons ever to read. 

The characters of Jack and Louise shine brightly thanks to Hoekstra and Price. The final scene between them is a well-earned payoff for both the characters and the audience. 

The performance runs through Aug. 7 on the Northlight Theatre stage in Skokie.

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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