It was a special treat to see the iconic “M*A*S*H” star, Loretta Swit, and an exceptionally talented cast, at the Asolo Rep last week, all under the direction of Karen Carpenter. Carpenter was responsible for the original off-Broadway smash hit, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”
The Rep is one of the first theaters in the country to independently produce this witty piece, written by two of my favorite writers, Norah and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman. You’ll recognize the Ephrons’ scripting from the popular films, “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”
The Ephron sisters, like the Brontës, know the internal clockwork and generational zeitgeist of their female compatriots inside and out, and it was cathartic, as well as great fun, to see our egos splayed on the stage in the form of the shared insecurities and emotional follies to which the female gender are prone. The men loved laughing at us, too — no surprise there.
After the actors idiosyncratically made their way on stage in individualized, adorably black outfits, Swit anchored the collection of estrogen-infused monologues by intermittently referring to a large sketchpad containing a panoply of artist-drawn sartorial creations on an easel to her right. As Gingy, Swit told her poignant story, and the rest of the women, perched energetically on stools, responded with whatever memories were unleashed regarding the outfits presented.
The results formed the kind of hilarity that really sticks to your ribs: heartwarming and heartbreaking. Although it was all compelling, some highlights included Roni Geva’s standout moment in a scene where she charmingly gets fitted for her first bra. Rosalyn Coleman’s long legs flash and her charm shines in tales about boot obsessions and an errant boyfriend. Donna McKechnie bravely stares down a mastectomy with the aid of an artful tattoo. Mary Testa, especially, made the audience ache with laughter at her hysterical gestures and intonations in a bit about literally losing her shirt. She raised the personal recognition factor off the chart and delighted the men in the audience as well, to rousing applause.
IF YOU GO
“Love, Loss, and What I Wore”
WHEN: runs through July 15
WHERE: Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail
TICKET PRICE: $26–$69
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