Stage Write

Marsha Cassel and Kasey Franzoni rehearsing for Stage Write’s “Love, Loss and What I Wore.”

A recent conversation with some of the cast and the director of the upcoming show, “Love, Loss and What I Wore” went something like this:

“Marsha has this picture of her prom dress,” Kasey says. “It’s fantastic.”

“From 50 years ago,” Diane adds.

“It was so trendy,” Marsha recalls. “A Gunne Sax dress. My date had ruffles on his polyester powder-blue tux.”

It could have been a scene plucked right from the show. A series of vignettes told by a rotating cast of five women, “Love, Loss and What I Wore” reveals the poignant stories of several women, marked by significant events in their lives and what they happened to be wearing at the time. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, some profound, some are sad and some will make you think, but the combined effect is a cathartic show that I saw Off-Broadway 10 years ago, and never forgot.

“We’ve all had all of these experiences,” said actor Marsha Cassel.

“It’s how women track time and how they track what happens to them,” Diane Liccardi said.

The show is sparked by throwback nostalgia, vulnerability and the emotional bookmarks that what we’re wearing at certain moments in our lives can be. It was a perfect fit for Liccardi’s Stage Write — a theater venture she launched last fall in Rutland to produce well-rehearsed, tightly directed staged readings.

“I’m always searching for stuff that can work as a reading under the brand of Stage Write,” Liccardi said. “And this show is never done as anything but people ‘on book,’ so it’s actually a full production because this is what a full production looks like.”

Liccardi is directing and starring in “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephron, based on the 1995 book of the same name, which will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 16-18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 at the Paramount Theatre’s Brick Box in Rutland.

It’s the second-longest running show at the Westside Theatre in New York in the playhouse’s history, and its production won the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

“When I got a copy of the script, I went home to read it, and I didn’t put it down,” said actor Kasey Franzoni. “I just loved it, and told Diane; this is fantastic.”

Franzoni and Cassel are two of the five local actors who play several characters in this production, narrated by a character called Gingy who weaves her life story among other tales, “each turning point marked by a particular item of clothing,” from a Brownie uniform to a bathrobe. The play’s relatability offers a solid jumping-off point for the actors.

“It’s pretty interesting because I can look back on many occasions in my life, happy times, bad times, and I knew exactly what I was wearing,” Franzoni said.

“I remember what I wore to the first day of school when I moved to a new town,” Cassel said. “Because you have to curate yourself for the occasion, and not be too frumpy or too sexy or unprofessional. There’s always somebody who’s going to put you in your place.”

“I was furniture shopping today and thought, this is so great, I don’t have to try it on,” Liccardi joked. She assigned parts to the actors, and the rehearsals and performances take place over a tight two-week schedule.

“Having rehearsals back-to-back really helps,” Liccardi said. “There’s no blocking, and nobody ever has to ditch their script, (they’re) just required to learn this person that they’re talking about.”

“I try to surrender ego and just go with it,” Cassel said. “You can always find a piece of yourself in anything, in any part ... that kernel of something and amplify it.”

“I’m convinced you’re a gang member,” Franzoni joked about one of Cassel’s characters.

But although the show is centered on women and told by women, Franzoni says, “I think it’s about women and people who love women.” And Cassel added, “It’s not just for women. It’s about humanity.”

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