If Love, Loss, and What I Wore has a superfan, it might very well be the director of Keizer Homegrown Theatre’s latest production: Leigh Matthews Bock. It’s her fifth time directing the scripted reading.
“It means getting to work with the coolest women ever, for one,” said Matthews Bock. “But it’s also because these stories are so personal and so universal all at once. It's a great girls’ night out, but men love the show because it helps them understand women - that we are complicated creatures. The guys realize their wife and mothers and their daughters are all crazy in this love-hate relationship we have with our clothing. It also gives men fresh material to tease us with. I think that’s important, we need to laugh at ourselves.”
Love, Loss, and What I Wore plays at the Keizer Cultural Center Feb. 14-16 and 21-23. Show times are 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $15. They can be purchased at the door or online at www.keizerhomegrowntheatre.org. Admission is free with an Oregon Trail Card.
The staged reading is a set of rotating, and interactive, monologues linked by fashion – and all of its ups and downs – during key moments of the characters’ lives. Memorable moments are marked by an unfortunate prom dress, the evils of fitting rooms, the inability to find anything in your messy purse, searching for a bridal gown, the trauma of bra shopping for the first time and the loss of one perfect shirt to cite just a few. The play was adapted by Nora and Della Ephron from the 1995 bestselling book by Ilene Beckerman.
Actor Storm Kennedy has a personal connection to the show aside from being a fan. Beckerman was a late best friend’s mother.
“It's about her life and my best friend is woven in and all her siblings, her aunts and uncles and friends and cousins,” Kennedy said. It’s her fourth time portraying some of the various women in the play.
Her favorite character in the line-up is named Rosie.
“Her story is about a very strong family, but there was a death that was very hard on the children. Then there was a new person brought into the family and there was one piece of clothing that made a significant impact on the character,” Kennedy said.
Actor Rachel Polzer is new to the show, but it was one she had her eye on when she took part in Homegrown auditions in January. Her favorite monologue comes from the character Liz.
“She is remembering both her love for cowboy boots, really nice cowboy boots and a really terrible relationship,” Polzer said. “She still has these well-cared-for boots and, for me, they are a symbol of her strength.”
Polzer added that participating in the production has presented her with opportunities to explore her own stories in new ways.
Homegrown’s space in the Keizer Cultural Center, 980 Chemawa Road N.E., is ideal for the performance, said Bock.
“I started out doing this play in larger venues but, when we moved to smaller ones, I realized this is precisely the type of intimate space the show was made for. The audience connects better in the smaller spaces and you’ll find them speaking back to the actors while they perform,” Bock said.
“If you enjoy listening to people tell stories about their lives and you enjoy laughing, you are willing to maybe tear up, maybe even cry, then it's a play for you,” Polzer added.