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At a theater in Beverly, love takes center stage

10nofirstnight -- Actors John Manning (left) of Westford and Jocelyn Duford of Derry, NH portray a couple in the romantic comedy "First Night" at the Larcom Theatre. (Noah Greenstein)
Actors John Manning (left) of Westford and Jocelyn Duford of Derry, N.H., portray a couple in the romantic comedy "First Night" at the Larcom Theatre.

In a celebration of love and commitment this Valentine’s Day, the Larcom Theatre in Beverly is seeking couples that have been together 50 years or more to be honored during the Sunday, Feb. 17, performance of the romantic comedy “First Night.”

“‘First Night,’ by Lowell native Jack Neary tells the story of a couple that rekindles a relationship after more than 20 years apart,” said Lisa Crowell, who owns the theater with her husband, Donnie. “We are inviting these couples that have been committed for a half century to attend the Sunday matinee for the cost of one ticket.”

Camilla and Bruce Corson of Beverly, married for 50 years this May, will be among the couples recognized at the Larcom Theatre matinee.

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“Marriage is more about ‘we’ than ‘me,’” said Camilla. “A successful marriage is a partnership that celebrates the little things in life, not the big ones.”

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Camilla knows that her husband, Bruce, loves apple pie and the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. She bakes him an apple pie for every Patriots game.

“That way even if they lose, and that’s not too often, he has the apple pie to cheer him up,” she explained.

Neary originally set his play on New Year’s Eve “since that is traditionally a romantic time,” but as the play has been produced around the world, he felt that the title “is also metaphor for a new beginning for the two characters. Romance happens throughout the year and life. It certainly works as a Valentine’s Day story.”

Camilla labels her husband as a romantic and confesses that when she was just 11 years old, she knew someday she would marry him.

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“Oh, it took many years for it to happen. We dated on and off, we went to college, and then graduate school,” she recalled. “One day I was sitting on the dock of a lake in Maine where we spent many summers and Bruce came by in a canoe and offered me a ride. I agreed. We went out to an island, we agreed we were in love, and soon got married.”

The owners of the Larcom Theatre admire the commitment of couples like the Corsons.

“Having been married for five years, raising two young boys, and starting a few businesses together, it is mind-boggling to think what the next 45 years will bring!” Donnie Crowell said.

“First Night” will be on stage for four performances: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Feb. 14 to 16 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m.

“Couples that have been together 50 years or more are invited to call the box office at 978-922-6313 for the special Sunday matinee tickets,” Lisa Crowell said.

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“We want to offer the deal for long-term couples simply as a recognition that true love still exists in 2019, while offering them time together without breaking the bank,” her husband added.

Ticket prices range from $19 to $23 in advance and $27 at the door. Details and tickets are available online at TheLarcom.org.

Linda Greenstein can be reached at greensteinlm@gmail.com.