“What a twist of fate!” Storm Kennedy exclaims, as she prepares her role in Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a play by sisters Delia and Nora Ephron, based off the book by Ilene Beckerman.
Kennedy’s enthusiasm for this project isn’t just about the chance to do a great play by a couple of iconic female writers, although that’s certainly a plus. Between the two of them, the Ephron sisters have penned the screenplays for When Harry Met Sally, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Julie & Julia and so many more wildly popular films. For this play they have soaked Beckerman’s autobiography in a tincture of honesty and hilarity about the passionate relationship between a woman and her wardrobe. The character of Gingy is lifted from the original, where the Ephron sisters have surrounded her with new monologues and riffs on a variety of ensemble-inspired themes. The play is generally staged as a reading, but actresses are off book, giving the impression of a candid conversation, rather than a theatrical spectacle.
According to Kennedy, this play scrambles into the darkest corners of your closet, covering everything from the tragicomedy of a bad purse to “the really scary experience of buying your first bra.”
But Kennedy’s connection runs deeper than clothes. Ilene Beckerman is the mother of Isabelle Beckerman, who Kennedy describes as “one of my oldest, dearest friends … we lived together in New York City during the 1980s.” Just this fall, Kennedy received a copy of Love, Loss, and What I Wore from the younger Beckerman. Kennedy enjoyed the read; “The book has my friend Isabelle, and all her siblings in it.” So you can imagine the thrill Kennedy experienced when, attending a wedding at the Majestic, she noticed an audition sign for the play. She jumped at the opportunity and landed a role. “It is the sickest, craziest thing!” she says.
While we can all understand the appeal of doing a play based off a book by your best friend’s momma, this still leaves Kennedy driving up to Corvallis for rehearsals. The mother of two is on the air with the KUGN news at 5:30 in the morning. I asked how she manages it all. “The nap is key,” she notes. “I set my schedule very diligently: I get home from work, take a nap, set the kids up with homework, dinner, pack their lunches for the next day.” Then she’s on the road, listening to her lines as she heads up the freeway to Corvallis.
Director Leigh Matthews Bock has certainly made the drive worthwhile. “What a complete joy it has been, working with these six amazing women,” Bock says. “When I first read the script, I thought it was a unique, fun way to talk about women,” she notes. But as her work on the play has progressed she has found that our clothing does have a deeper message, even for women who don’t care about what they wear; “You don’t want to judge a book by the cover, but our coverings do tell part of our story.”
This play, which The New York Times describes as “chick legit” about life and clothes, sounds like The Best Play Ever to me, but I had to ask Kennedy, “What’s in it for the men?” “Insights and answers,” she says, noting that in New York, the audiences are a good one-third men, all whom have wives or sisters or daughters or mothers, and can finally understand that it’s not just the woman in their lives who are confronted with the existential crisis of nothing to wear.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore opens at 7:30 pm Friday & Saturday, March 1 & 2, and 2:30 pm Sunday, March 2, at the Majestic Theater, Corvallis; $12.