OLT's 'Love, Loss and What I Wore' uses clothing as symbol of big life events

Contributing writerJuly 11, 2013 

  • ‘LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE’

    What: Olympia Little Theatre presents Nora and Delia Ephron’s comic and dramatic take on the role that clothing plays in women’s lives.

    When: 7:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13, plus July 18-20 and 25-27; matinees at 1:55 p.m. July 21 and 28

    Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia

    Tickets: $12-$15

    More information: 360-786-9484 or olympialittletheater.org

    Note: Not suitable for children

Imagine stepping into a giant dressing room that includes all of the significant items of clothing you’ve worn throughout your life.

If that sentence struck a chord with you, you’re in the target audience for Olympia Little Theatre’s “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” a mostly funny and sometimes touching piece of theater about women’s clothes, shoes, purses — and lives.

“Men in locker rooms talk about things they don’t talk about with women,” said Toni Holm, president of the theater’s board and the show’s stage manager. “Women in dressing rooms talk about things they don’t talk about with men.”

The play, by Nora and Delia Ephron and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, is set up as a series of monologues about significant clothing and events in women’s lives.

“There’s a section on ‘my first bra,’ ” said Kathryn Beall, the show’s director and the theater’s artistic manager. “There’s a section on the closet. There’s a section on the dressing room, about the things women say when they are standing in front of the mirror.”

Beall was drawn to the play when she read about it online, and as soon as she began reading the script, she was hooked. “As I was reading it, I called Toni about 10 times, saying: ‘We have to do this play. I’ve had this conversation with my mother. I’ve had this conversation with my friends.’ ”

If this sounds like the theatrical version of a chick flick, it is. Reviewing the Broadway production, New York Times critic Charles Isherwood used the phrase “chick legit,” referring to legitimate theater.

“I can’t say men wouldn’t enjoy the play, but women will enjoy it more,” Holm said. “It’s a bring-your-girlfriends play.”

“Breezy and perfectly enjoyable for the stray men in the room, it’s like a big bowl of buttered popcorn (but calorie-free!) for the women who can share deeply in the particulars of experience dissected and discussed,” Isherwood wrote.

On Broadway, the show was performed as a staged reading, with famous actresses including Rosie O’Donnell and Tyne Daly sitting in chairs.

“We’re doing it more like a Busby Berkeley musical with a lot of movement,” Beall said.

“Kathryn has taken a very innovative and very active approach,” Holm said. “It’s very, very funny.”

The play also touches on serious subject matter, including breast cancer and rape. It’s definitely not suitable for children.

There is also a lot of clothing on stage.

“Some of it is on racks; some of it is in their hands; some of it is on displays,” Holm said. “Some of it they interact with and pass it back and forth.”

“We have these really cool costumes at OLT that we don’t get to use much,” Beall said. “The vintage ones are made for women’s bodies that don’t exist right now.

“We probably have 1,000 costume pieces on the set. We don’t use all of them, but they’re being used as decoration.”

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