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
• Sexual dialogue
• 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.