Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dames and Dresses

While my mouth was recovering from its peroxide treatment yesterday, I took myself to the Westside Theatre to see "Love, Loss and What I Wore", the new play by Nora Ephron ("When Harry Met Sally", "Julie and Julia") and her sister, Delia Ephron ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants", "You've Got Mail").

While I waited for the show to start, I looked around and realised that the average age of theatregoers yesterday was about 80. Not surprising for a matinee perhaps but it still made me smile (which didn't hurt my face). I could see mothers, daughters, grandmothers - generations of women were spending the day together and I just thought it was really nice.

The stage was set up very simply - just five barstool chairs, some music stands to hold script folders, and a clothes hanging stand.

In addition to the simple staging, the casting of this play is really smart. Every show has a cast of amazing female actors who play the roles for a month, and then a new group of actors comes in for the next month.

For my performance, the five actresses were Marylouise Burke, Emmanuelle Chirqui ("Entourage"), Ann Harada (who played Christmas Eve in "Avenue Q" - you must see this video clip), Rosalyn Ruff, and Yeardley Smith (yes, THE voice of Lisa Simpson).

The play itself doesn't have a plot so much, but it's a collection of really great stories about women and the clothes that have influenced their lives. Running through these stories is a common thread of Ginger's story - and how she remembers the dresses and outfits that she wore in her life from childhood, through her marriages, and into the dress-up box that her grand-daughter loves to ransack.

It's funny though because despite the age-range in the audience, I found myself laughing at just the same parts of the show that the 80 year old woman next to me found amusing. We all cringed at the story of the first bra, or the one about buying so many clothes in black - and I particularly liked the stories that involved all the actors, where they all pitched in and told the story together.

Even though the actors never even got off their chairs, I was still really transfixed by the stories and their performances. I wonder what energy the other actors would bring to these same stories - I get the impression that even though the actual script was the same, each group's performance would be subtly different. A really cool idea.

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