Thursday, October 21, 2010


Love Loss, and What I Wore

Powerful Stories for Powerful Women

Originally intended as a nostalgic souvenir for friends, Ilene Beckermans’s book Love, Loss, and What I Wore has become a huge theatrical success story as a vehicle for a diverse collection of actresses to gather together and tell stories about women and clothing, stories that both tug at the heart and entertain with great comic finesse.

Adapted for the stage by Nora and Delia Ephron, this collection of monologues and interactive dialogue is reminiscent of The Vagina Monologues as it presents five performers lined up onstage, all in black dresses, and reading these tales from simple podiums. The simple and direct staging highlights the storytelling quality but doesn’t restrict the superb theatricality as performers move seamlessly in and out of memorized and read dialogue, adding their individual acting talents to each new narrative.

Playing in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York, the piece has featured, in a rotating cast, luminaries such as Kristin Chenowith, Tyne Daly, Loretta Swit, Barbara Feldon, Brooke Shields, Fran Drescher, Rita Wilson, Carol Kane, and Rhea Perlman - to name only a few. The current Toronto cast features Patricia Hamilton, Mary Lou Fallis, Lisa Horner, Leah Pinsent, trey anthony, and Stacey Farber. In recent months the Canadian ensemble has included Andrea Martin, Sharron Matthews, Mary Walsh, Paula Brancati, and Louise Pitrie.

Stories range from heart wrenching tales of rape and breast cancer to lighthearted memories of what it’s like to wear a bra. In the current incarnation Mary Lou Fallis, Canadian operatic singer/comedienne extraordinaire, performs a single line from the hilarious brassiere segment with great diva-esque flair, while the entire ensemble does a Madonna clothing riff with impeccable timing and great ‘girlpower’ as memorable lines are sent out to an empathetic and thoroughly engaged audience.

“Any woman who says she has never dressed like Madonna is either lying or Amish.”

“I made out with a girl.”

“I made out with a bunch of gay men.”

Whether they are reflecting upon the influence of a spectacular pop icon and her bold fashion sense, letting us in on the secret life of a not so cherished purse, or interrogating the omnipresence of black as a favored hue for frocks, the five women onstage are a fabulous example of the kind of storytelling that universalizes gender experience in a very special way, moving beyond the theatre and into the hearts of women in their daily lives.

A portion from proceeds from some of the productions benefits the ‘Dress for Success’ charity, providing work clothing and job support for low income women. The production gives actresses and audiences the opportunity to experience women’s stories in a simple, direct, and refreshing way that highlights the physical and emotional presence of a range of extraordinary performers who have made their marks, and continue to, in the entertainment world. Lisa Horner recently finished a run in the highly successful My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, while trey anthony holds the distinction of being the first Black Canadian woman to write and produce a television show (da’ Kink in My Hair) on a prime time Canadian network. Da’ Kink in My Hair was already an award winning piece of Canadian theatre before becoming a popular series. All of the actresses involved in Love, Loss, and What I Wore bring their own success stories to the stage as they create an ongoing ensemble of powerful women sharing powerful tales.

The current Toronto production runs at the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge St) until Oct 30th

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