We all have our associations. A song makes you think of an old friend, someone laughs at something only your ex would have thought was funny.
This week, Theater Pops opens Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a show that looks at the associations many women have with specific articles of clothing -- associations that punctuate their entire lives.
Director Kelli McCloud-Schingen recently summed up the play, though she stopped short of calling it a comedy.
"It's a collection of short stories and one-liners that women have experienced as a result of advice from their parents, as well as things that have happened to them, and they're related to pieces of clothing," she said. "Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's poignant. Maybe it's not a comedy, but there's more to laugh about than to cry at."
Like a lot of ensemble pieces (and especially a lot that have been staged recently in Tulsa), Love, Love, and What I Wore is a collection of monologues featuring a cast of eight.
"It's an ensemble piece, so there aren't really any stars, though Gingy is the character that sort of anchors the whole thing, and she's played by Liz Masters," McCloud-Schingen said.
A very cursory bit of initial research revealed a pair of playwrights pretty much everyone knows and that McCloud-Schingen specifically admires very much.
"Nora and Delia Ephron are both people who have written for the screen, and it's always been things I've enjoyed, like When Harry Met Sally and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," she said. "These are writers I enjoy a great deal. They tell a holistic story. They've taken Ilene Beckerman's book and done something really nice with it."
One might expect a costume-heavy show if the concept is "stories about clothes," but one would be mistaken. Actually, while McCloud-Schingen's decision to deck the whole cast out in black isn't unusual for productions of this work, the director has chosen one path that is very unusual for this particular show.
"It's not a show that you need to see what they're talking about," she began. "The cast wears all black, and the pieces of clothing discussed by Gingy are shown on a large poster. So she holds up the pictures that she's been drawing as she tells the story, and those are the only clothes you see."
The left turn McCloud-Schingen has taken is in moving away from what is often known as readers' theater.
"Honestly, the show is usually done as staged reading," she said. "I don't think I know of anyone else having staged it like we are, as if it were a conversation amongst friends. They're not sitting behind a music stand and reading their scripts."
What this means for the actors is that while pretty much everyone else who has ever done this show got to read it off the page, but our Theatre Pops players have to memorize the whole damn thing. Granted, it's a monologues show, and for some actors, that's easier to memorize, but still.
This is untilled soil.
"I've seen that people have been disappointed by people not being up and moving and acting," McCloud-Schingen said. "I didn't want people to say, 'They're just reading from their scripts? I don't want to see that.' So making it more conversational was a way to make it more into something people would want to see."
She praised her actors.
"But this is such a strong cast, and they're so committed to telling these stories in the most authentic way," she said -- a fact that has helped her avoid going for the elaborate when a simple-done-well approach is not only apropos, but beneficial to the show.
"It's going to be a treat for the audience members, and not just the women," she added, doing what she could to assuage fears of men who might worry that a night at Love, Loss, and What I Wore must be a night of chick-lit that they'd have to endure just to get to the sex part of the date later. "There's something here for men, as well."
There's also an altruistic bent to this particular undertaking.
"Something we're proud of that isn't necessarily a part of the script is that we're partnering with Dress for Success," McCloud-Schingen said. This nonprofit group works with women (mostly under-privileged) who are re-entering the workforce -- or perhaps entering for the first time -- and helps them acquire appropriately professional clothing.
"People can bring a piece of clothing or an accessory, like a piece of jewelry or a belt or something like that," McCloud-Schingen said. Doing so gets the gift-giver a half-price ticket, but that only works when buying a ticket in person. "They need to bring it to the actual show."
Performances are April 4-6 at 8pm and April 7 at 2pm. General admission tickets are $15 and available at the Second Street box office, by phone at 918-596-7111, or online at tulsapac.com.
Shooting Star, encore performances presented by Heller Theatre
So last year, Heller took its production of Shooting Star to the Oklahoma Community Theatre Association competition, and by winning Outstanding Production, they won the right to move on to regionals, this time in Lafayette, La.
What's a theatrical production without audiences or rehearsals, though, right? So Heller will bring Shooting Star, Steven Dietz's meditation on -- essentially -- the one that got away, back to the Henthorne stage.
This is a pretty damn solid show, so if you missed it when Heller staged it in 2012, you have this opportunity before you again. You know, the Mayans were wrong, so this is your chance to do all those things you thought you'd never get to after the world ended.
Shooting Star's encore performances run at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, located at 4825 S. Quaker Ave. on April 7 at 2 p.m. and April 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at the door.
Shesh Besh, presented by the Oklahoma Israel Exchange
There's a singer-songwriter out there by the name of Dan Bern. My kids' mom introduced me to him years ago, regaling me with all sorts of stories about him and his music, and then, almost as an afterthought, she played me some of his music. It's terrific stuff.
Stay with me. There's a point. Bern has a song called "President," in which he lists all the things he'd do and problems he'd fix if he were ever elected to the highest office in the land. One of his first tasks is to end human smuggling and illegal immigration by offering statehood to Cuba and Mexico. His conclusion is that "Maybe Israel and Palestine / will follow our lead and just combine / and then become Israelestine / who knows?"
Shesh Besh has taken his advice. It's an instrumental ensemble made up of Arab and Jewish members -- three of whom are members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. They bring a mix of Eastern and Western music, even pairing a Moorish song form called a Muwashah with a Bach partita. They also bring a message of tolerance and respect rarely found in the land from which they hail.
Shesh Besh plays the Christ Chapel at Oral Roberts University at 7777 S. Lewis Ave. on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30. Free.
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