Breast Cancer Awareness Month is getting a makeover, slightly. On Saturday, October 19, coinciding with National Mammography Day, the Southampton Arts Center and The Coalition for Women’s Cancers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital will present “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” directed by and starring Valerie diLorenzo. The show opens the closet doors and reveals the power of women’s clothing. The all-women cast will tell stories and partake in humorous banter: Carolann DiPirro, Rebecca Edana, Bridget Fleming, Georgette Grier-Key, Ruby Jackson, Amy Kirwin, Angela LaGreca, Jenna Mate, Kate Mueth, Minerva Perez, Andrea Schiavoni, and Susan Stout. Indy caught up with diLorenzo for a behind-the-scenes preview.
Have cast members performed together before?
Many of the women performing in “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” first performed together when we did “The Vagina Monologues” in February 2018 at the Southampton Arts Center. It was an incredible, powerful experience and in fact, was brought back (by popular demand) for an encore that April. It was right during the #MeToo movement and The Retreat was named as our beneficiary.
We so often hear more about groups of women not getting along, but we really bonded. I knew there was always a desire to for us to reunite and thought “Love, Loss” would be the perfect piece. I love the idea of featuring the talents of these women and benefitting the community at the same time.
Why The Coalition for Women’s Cancers as the beneficiary?
Once we decided on the fall, I suggested October, as it would it coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and knew it would make for a natural partnership with the coalition. I have a social worker friend at Southampton Hospital who approached Susie Roden to gauge her interest, and voila. There’s a special “surprise” video at the end of the play featuring women from the coalition, our community, family, and friends.
How did you cast the rest of your “storytellers”?
Many of us formed this girl squad and I knew they would love “getting the band back together.” Other roles were cast with women we knew and loved, who also love the East End community. This is some group — many professional actors — all who choose to make the East End their home. There are also compelling, lovely, and lively community leaders and artists, even our County Legislator, Bridget Fleming.
What’s some of the backstory behind this production?
The stories are all part of the published play, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” which began as a book by Ilene Beckerman and then adapted into a play by Nora and Delia Ephron. In fact, the play had its first-ever staging at the Bridgehampton Community House in 2008. Many are beyond amusing — laugh-out-loud moments that women will definitely relate to. And it’s “man-friendly,” super funny and touching, heart-rending, all at the same time.
I will add that a couple sections of the play allow for a free-flow of thoughts. That is, they have to share their own individual thoughts; someone said something the other night, one word actually, and that was truly hysterical to all of us.
Tell us about Gingy.
Gingy is the nickname of Ilene Beckerman, who wrote the book the play is based on. The stories the character of Gingy reads are Ilene’s stories. Gingy acts as our guide and provides bookends for the piece as a whole. Ilene is a lovely woman, talented artist, and story teller. I know her personally and spoke to her when I knew we would be doing the play.
She gave me her blessing (as she was particularly in support of our partnership with The Coalition) and shared with me that she and her daughter, Isabelle, were both diagnosed with breast cancer about four years ago. Ilene survived but, sadly, her daughter Isabelle did not. Both Ilene and Isabelle will be in our video.
What is your article of clothing and what is your story?
This is a tough one. But I have to say the red dress that my mother sewed for me from a Vogue wedding pattern many years ago, which eventually became a costume when I played Nancy in the musical, “Oliver.” Pivotal role, pivotal dress, and kind of a full-circle moment. As a child, my mom took me to see the movie version of “Oliver” at the Sag Harbor Cinema and I fell in love with the character of Nancy. After the movie, I said to my mom, “Someday I want to play that woman in the red dress.” And I did, twice — and both times, the costume designers allowed me to wear my own special dress. It was, and still is, a beautiful dress that was made just for me, so of course it fit well and in such a gorgeous shade of red. I always refer to it as the “famous red dress made by Mom.”
Showtime is 8 PM, with a matinee at 2 PM. Tickets are $20, $15 for friends of SAC. Visit www.southamptonartscenter.org.