There are lots of pro-women projects out in the world. One of the most famous is The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Yet, there are countless and some are rather preachy or feel desperate to prove something…on occasion it is at the cost of the reputation of the opposite sex. Love, Loss, and What I Wore was written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron. It was directed by Jill Patterson Phillips at the Gaslight Theatre in Enid, OK. It opens tonight in the Turpin Theatre, but I was fortunate enough to catch the final dress. I left inspired, with my masculinity in tact.
The Turpin hosts a small stage and an intimate setting. Phillips went an extra step by not only dressing the stage, but the audience chairs and entry. That is often a good sign that you will see that something “extra” on the stage. She made excellent use of the stage and from where I was sitting, the mirror made for some dramatic pictures. It was colorful, fun, and intimate (much like the stories the actors would soon be sharing on stage).
The show began with a strut down the catwalk to the stage. Each actor got into place and we were introduced to Mary McDonald as the lead character. McDonald has such a love of language and it comes out like a professional storyteller. It was the perfect thread to run through the fabric of the show. Carmen Ball was very real and dedicated to her various roles (where I had mostly seen her play to the audience as mother goose or serve as a rather stoic character). It was subtle and beautiful. Courtney Strzineck was solid, but achieved her greatest moments in some of the more dramatic stories. There was a thoughtfulness that projected her vulnerability to the audience. It was an excellent delivery of some rather emotional dialogue. Speaking of vulnerability, Tammy Wilson made one of the strongest leaps. Her performance here was one of her best as we got to see much softer and more loving characters who wore their emotions on their sleeve. I had never seen this from Wilson before and she nailed it. Finally, I’ve dubbed actor, Leslie Newell, as Enid’s answer to Lucille Ball or Aisha Tyler. She’s young and pretty, but she is fearless when it comes to reminding you she’ll sacrifice the pretty for a valuable laugh. Newell has such a wonderful comedic spirit. Each woman garnered laughs, but Newell’s timing and expressions were undeniably hilarious.
The script was one of charm and great care. It was like spending Friday night hanging out with friends. With that, one does not feel obligated to stay to the end, but instead loses any interest in time. It approaches many topics and emotions, but does so successfully without force. It also tells its feminine story in such an entertaining and familiar way that even men will understand and appreciate it. They may find themselves thinking about their moms, wives, daughters, etc.
There are surprises that I cannot mention, lest I suffer a cruel death at the hands of the director. I found the entire experience honest without being desperate (like excessive vulgarity, as an example). The cast was light-hearted without being shallow. While this show is about women, it is certainly for everyone. Phillips made wonderful choices in her directorial debut and the sold-out crowd will no doubt be in for a treat. If the opportunity ever arises, put on your best black attire and catch Love, Loss, and What I Wore.