Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Theater Review: Love, Loss and What I Wore

Lisa Joyce, Mary Louise Wilson, Tyne Daly,
Mary Birdsong and Jane Lynch. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Life’s Story All Dressed Up
By Lauren Yarger
For most women, the important moments in life can be remembered not by the date, but by what we were wearing when they happened. Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron’s delightful Off-Broadway celebration of those moments, Love, Loss and What I Wore, looks at stories from the lives of varied women portrayed by a rotating cast of five actresses directed by Karen Carpenter.

The women narrate, share and become participants in 27 scenes during which the women remember moments and outfits that stand out in their memories and the people connected with those moments. Everything from purchasing a first bra to trying to find something in the closet to wear is discussed, sometimes with a stage hand moving drawings of the outfits on hangers along a clothes rack stage right. The rack is the only thing on Jo Winiarski’s stark stage except for the five chairs for the all-black clad actresses (Jessica Jahn, costumes) with music stands for their scripts, which contain, of course, a bit about how we all end up thinking we look best in black.

Occasionally the lights change (Jeff Croiter, design), but the stories, all funny, engaging and heart-touching, are acted from the chairs. The mostly all-women audience (there were a couple of guys) is fully engaged with knowing laughter and audible gasps expressed as they relate to the women’s stories.

In the cast I saw, were three actresses whose work I have enjoyed for years: Tyne Daly, Mary Louise Wilson and Jane Lynch (Mary Birdsong and Lisa Joyce completed the ensemble), so the production had the feel of sitting down with some old friends. The script, based on Ilene Beckerman’s original book and drawings, has much humor in it, but the part of the afternoon that brought me the most enjoyment was watching Daly react to the other actresses. She genuinely enjoyed the stories and seemed to be having a terrific time up there.

The show is a wonderful mom/daughter or girls’ night out (and well, maybe those two guys thought it was a fun guys’ night out too). The cast I saw continues through Nov. 15. Following that, the casts will be:

Nov. 18-Dec. 18
Kristin Chenoweth. Lucy DeVito, Capathia Jenkins, Rhea Perlman and Rita Wilson
Dec. 16-Jan. 3
Mary Louise Wilson, Kate Finneran, Lucy DeVito, Capathia Jenkins and Natasha Lyonne
Jan. 6-Jan. 31
Michelle Lee, Deborah Monk, Tracie Ellis Ross, Cassie Wilson and Kate Finneran

Love, Loss and What I Wore plays downstairs at the Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd Street, NYC through March 28, 2010. For discounted tickets that benefit Masterwork Productions, click here.

Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Language
• Sexual dialogue
• Homosexuality
• A portion of the production’s proceeds will benefit Dress for Success, a charity that provides work clothing and job support for low-income women. Audience members are invited to donate their gently-used purses and other accessories in the theatre lobby.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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