A play about women, written by women and completely cast with women is coming to the Whidbey Playhouse stage this month.
“Love, Loss and What I Wore” runs March 10-26. The play was written by Delia and Nora Ephron and is based on a 1995 book by Ilene Beckerman, which is filled with sketches of different clothing she wore throughout her life and the memories associated with each outfit.
The Ephron sisters collected more stories about clothing from their own lives and friends of theirs, making it into a stage play in 2008.
This is a unique Whidbey Playhouse production; the members of the cast sit on the stage throughout the entire show and take turns monologuing, telling 28 different stories.
“It’s kind of like sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a friend and hearing their story,” said director and producer Sue Riney. She has been involved at the Playhouse since 1980.
She explained the benefit of having such minimal set design, props, blocking and costumes.
“We were able to focus on the stories and their characters,” Riney said. “Nothing is there to distract the audience. It’s just raw conversations.”
Such themes as marriage, divorce, children, body image and puberty are explored through items of clothing — prom dresses, first date outfits and a favorite pair of boots.
Riney said she chose the actors based on how good they were at storytelling. There are six cast members, who are a mix of Playhouse veterans and newcomers.
Gaye Litka plays Gingy and tells the stories Beckerman wrote in her book. Litka has been performing at the Playhouse since 1981, the same year she met Riney. Litka was not familiar with “Love, Loss and What I Wore” before she decided to audition, and she cried the first time she read the script.
Litka, playing Gingy, begins by reminiscing about the brownie uniform she wore as a child in the Girl Scouts. As the show goes on, she looks back at many other outfits, including her first wedding dress and her maternity clothes.
Litka thinks women will identify with the story because everyone will be able to relate to at least one of the monologues.
“It makes you think about your own life,” she said.
All of the other women in the cast play multiple characters.
Katie Jones plays a character who loses her mother, as well as a woman who has breast cancer and a woman who leaves her husband for another man. She said acting as so many characters in one play was scary and quite challenging at first, but with time it was easier to develop each role individually. It’s been 15 years since she’s acted in a play and this is her first Playhouse production.
“I think men would love this too,” she said. “I practiced in front of my husband and he got emotional because it brought up memories from his childhood that I had never heard, and we’ve been together 32 years.”
Dianna Gruenwald said the play is a nice mix of comedy and drama. She said being part of a production that is completely cast with women and directed by a woman has been empowering.
“I knew exactly what I was getting into when I auditioned for a Sue Riney production,” she said. “I knew I was in for something fantastic.”
Riney said she hopes men in particular come to see the show.
“This may teach them a thing or two that they hadn’t thought of before – a perspective of those women in their lives,” she said.
Tickets are available at whidbeyplayhouse.com.