'Love, Loss, and What I Wore,' Asolo Repertory Theatre, Sarasota: review

wtatangelo@bradenton.comJune 24, 2012 

Fashion can be fun.

And traumatic.

That's the basic message of "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," which opened Friday at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

The evening of monologues had the audience laughing on numerous occasions during the 94-minute production.

Nora Ephron, the screenwriter of such films as "Silkwood," "When Harry Met Sally…" and "Sleepless in Seattle," coauthored the play with her sister Delia Ephron. It's based on the best-selling book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman.

It's a nice match of mostly witty vignettes, 28 total, about clothes-associated memories delivered by five women, all dressed in black, turning pages and seated in front of music stands.

But these aren't just any five women.

Loretta Swit, the actress who won two Emmys for playing Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on "M*A*S*H," has the only really definable role of the narrator, Gingy.

Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie (the original Cassie in "A Chorus Line"), two-time Tony nominee Mary Testa, "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" regular Roni Geva, and Rosalyn Coleman (who appears in the recent Zach Galifianakis film "It's Kind of a Funny Story") round out the cast.

Everyone except Coleman had previously made an appearance in "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," which has been playing off-Broadway since 2009.

On Friday, each woman did a solid job of selling the stories, with Testa taking the prize for best performance with Geva placing a close second.

Those two just brought an extra energy to the anecdotes that increased the believability factor.

When Testa talks about the sorrows of not being able to fit into a certain size, it's like hearing a salon confessional.

Subject matter includes dressing room drama, bad bras, prom problems and purchase struggles that tie in with mommy issues.

The material bounds from hilarious to sad, at times burdened by predictable punch lines and a certain maudlin banality.

On balance, though, it's entertaining if not as insightful as the play would like to be.

Details: Through July 1, Asolo Repertory's Mertz Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $20-$67. Information: 941-351-8000 or www.asolorep.org.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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