After wearing dark blue gabardine pants and a button-down blouse daily in high school, I found freedom of expression in college. That 80’s wardrobe could be described with “Flashdance” meets “Breakin” with a side of Goodwill. No, I didn’t go the preppy route. One of my unforgettable outfits had to be a tux with red pinstripes. I accessorized it with a red hat trimmed in black netting, shiny red pumps, one black leather glove and several red bangles. Walking into the winter formal, I was confidently ready to tear up the dance floor. A conformist no more, it was my Independence Day.
Broadway in Chicago presents LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE. The Ephron sisters have gathered quite the ladies collection. Using both their own and others’ memorable moments set to clothes, Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron describe life in fashion. On stage, five women read from the Ephrons’ passages: first outfit, first bra, and first wedding gown. The ladies chronicle life milestones with the fabric of the day. They chortle over nagging mothers, clueless men and the Madonna craze. They size up death, divorce and dresses. Estrogen levels are high-larious! Grab a purse and a gal pal for a perfect girls’ night out! LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE is one-size-fits-all but probably not unisex.
Having played in NYC and LA, LLAWIW is finally visiting Chicago. Where present a fashion-focused showcase? A block off the magnificent mile… but of course, at the Broadway Playhouse. And who better to be the local voice of women? Barbara Robertson, Felicia P. Fields and Nora Dunn… but of course, three of Chicago theatre divas. These lovely ladies, all dressed in their stylized LBD (little black dress), are joined by lesser known but equally fabulous, Roni Geva and Katie O’Brien. Robertson acts as the overall narrator announcing the topic for girl talk. In between the subject- focused discussions, Robertson reminiscences as Gingy. The always effervescent Robertson uses colorful costume sketches to illustrate Gingy’s life story. All the ladies get a turn in sharing personal tales. Geva is hilarious relating a mother- driven wedding dress shopping spree. In her famous deadpan delivery, Dunn compares the clutter-level of purses to the owner’s life. It’s so funny and so true! Most of the show, it’s a cackling hen party about period stains, fitting rooms, and an-ex- that-didn’t-quite- fit. Other times, it’s a moment of intimate reflection on the clothing connected to pain. Dunn poignantly links a velour, zippered robe and a mother dying of breast cancer. An animated O’Brien powerfully drops down a few beats to couple mini-skirted boots and a young woman being raped. The clothes make the woman… mostly happy and sometimes sad.
I enjoyed every moment of this relatable show. But my favorite parts were dressed up by Felicia P. Fields. Fields is deliciously sassy. With a word or look, she rocks the theatre in laughter. SENSATIONAL! LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE is a Glamour DO! No black bar about it! And if you don’t get that joke, you probably won’t get the show, dude.
A man who is well-suited, Dick describes it with ‘no boys allowed.’
Running Time: Ninety-five minutes with no intermission
At Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut Street
Written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron
Directed by Karen Carpenter
Thru December 4th
Production photograph courtesy of Amy Boyle.