Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NYC Adventure -- Part Two: Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg
My favorite cobalt blue polo shirt. Black Perry Ellis slacks and winter pullover. Black Champion sneakers with cobalt blue treads and laces.  The button that says, simply and not-so-simply, "Writer" -- a beloved birthday gift from last May.  That's what I wore to Love, Loss, and What I Wore at the Westside Theatre, a beautifully-acted play I attended on my first night in New York City.

Following a bumpy start, my Big Apple adventure took a turn for the better at 43rd Street, where it was my pleasure to meet Ms. Robin Strasser, one of the luminous stars of the production's revolving cast and the inimitable Doctor Dorian Cramer (Lord/Callison/Santi/Vickers) from my late, beloved soap, One Life to Live.  Also headlining February 2012's cast is Dawn Wells -- "Mary Ann" from Gilligan's Island, a nifty fact not lost on that part of me who remembers sitting cross-legged on the floor of my boyhood home, enjoying summer reruns in a tiny town that seemed a million light years from Hollywood.

LLWIW, written by Nora and Delia Ephram and based upon the book by Ilene Beckerman, follows five actresses seated in a line across the front center of the stage, four in numerous roles as women who recall the highs and lows of their lives as related to and remembered through what they were wearing at the time.  Ms. Wells plays the character of "Gingy," who opens the dialogue -- often hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking -- by relaying a story from her early childhood concerning a Brownie uniform.  Original illustrations created by Ms. Beckerman enhance Gingy's arc through a tragic young adulthood, marriage, divorce, the birth of children and one's death.  Along the journey, other characters chime in on such subjects as the bra, the "Madonna Phase," bridal dresses, shoes, the Betsey Johnson paper dress, the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, and what to wear to a same-sex wedding.

Ms. Wells delivered a brilliant performance.  So did Ms. Strasser, who took to the stage looking stunning in glittering diamonds and black velvet, and who portrayed Gingy's mother early on, followed by a state senator and a woman who searches for the perfect tote in the segment of the play called "Purse."  Seated in my excellent Orchestra aisle seat, I remembered some of my favorite Strasser-centric OLTL storylines -- the mysterious goings-on in the secret room beneath Llanfair, Dorian's liaison with super spy David Renaldi (the late, great Michael Zaslow), her torrid affair with a then-unknown Nathan Fillion as arch-rival Victoria Lord-Buchanan's son Joe among them.  I've known for some time what a great actress she is, but the range she showed in LLWIW was above and beyond.

The play ended and, standing to applaud, Ms. Strasser blew me a kiss.  I exited into the snowstorm, grabbed a bite to eat, and moseyed back to my hotel at the heart of the city.  There, I snuggled up in my rented bed, uncapped my fountain pen, and wrote well into the night, excited to read to what I hoped would be a crowded house in less than twenty-four hours.

To Be Continued...

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