Theatre Review: Love, Loss, and What I Wore

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When Nora Ephron died last summer, she left a legacy  that included film (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in SeattleJulie & Julia), countless essays, books, and plays, like her final work, Lucky Guy. She and her sister, Delia Ephron, also collaborated on a stage adaptation of Love, Loss and What I Wore, based on Ilene Beckerman’s book of the same name.

Lexington’s On the Verge theatre group premiered Love, Loss and What I Wore Mother’s Day weekend at Après Vous, a site-specific staging that accommodates an audience of about 30 at each performance in the haute consignment boutique on Moore Drive. It stars Samantha Doane-Bates, Erica House, Georgeanne Edwards, Stephanie Peniston, Susan Dudley Wigglesworth and Janet Scott, and is directed by On the Verge co-founder, Ave Lawyer. It’s presented as a staged reading, as the Ephron sisters designed it. (The production is reminiscent of Lexington’s sold-out 2001 staging of the Vagina Monologues at the Singletary Center, starring Missy Johnston, Debra Hensley, Kelly Flood, Cathy Rawlings, and Kathy Stein.)

The sold-out Mother’s Day matinee audience was wildly appreciative of the performances and the universal material (“go right back upstairs and take that off!”; “you’d be so pretty if you…put on a little lipstick…”; “where are you planning to wear a tiara?”) The production is simple, with periodic “chapters”  shifting on a screen behind the actresses with titles like “shoes” and “bras.” It takes on the universal themes of love and loss and mothers and daughters and sisters and marriage and the relationships between women, viewed through the lens of “what I wore,” sometimes amusingly, sometimes touchingly.

As is common with the production as it has been presented in other cities, this one has developed a charitable component. Director

The Mother’s Day Matinee performance of Love, Loss, and What I Wore at Apres Vous. (Director Ave Lawyer, lower right.)

Ave Lawyer said after the Mother’s Day matinee that she’d been doing some research on Nora Ephron and discovered that the “first few performances of Love, Loss and What I Worewere benefits for the Manhattan chapter of Dress For Success.” Earlier that day, she’d read a newspaper column about two Lexington women, “Analisa Wagoner and Jennifer Monarch—who were starting up a local chapter of Dress for Success.” She says, “I figured the universe was talking to me and I should pay attention.”

She sent “Analisa an email offering her one of our brush-up rehearsal nights as a full scale performance, to benefit Dress for Success. She was so delighted, and the cast was so pleased, I figured why not keep going?” She adds, “People have been so kind to us, it makes us feel good to pay it forward.”

The show continues through early June, and Wednesday May 22 benefits Dress For Success,  Monday May 27 benefits ITNBluegrass and Wednesday May 29 will benefit Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program (related story here).

Each performance is followed by a little champagne, finger food, an opportunity to mingle with the actresses, and light shopping downstairs. (The performances are upstairs, and run 90 minutes, with no intermission.) Full schedule of shows are at the Ace calendar.

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