Elgin’s ‘What I Wore’ production a gain for Community Crisis Center
By Janelle Walker For Sun-Times Media September 10, 2013 5:26PM
"Love, Loss and What I Wore" to comes to Elgin Friday through Sunday. Taking part in a recent rehearsal are (from left to right) Sylvia Grady, Karen Schock, Rise Jones and Danae Molitor. | Janelle Walker~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:16AM
ELGIN — When Sylvia Grady is asked what she wants for her birthday, the Elgin resident knows how to shoot for the stars.
Her first request was a VW convertible. When her longtime boyfriend balked at that proposal, she came back with another suggestion — pay for the rights to perform “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”
That suggestion apparently won and is now set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Elgin Art Showcase, located at the Professional Building, 164 Division St., eighth floor.
Written by Nora and Delia Ephron, and based on a 1995 book of the same name written by Ilene Beckerman, “the play is a collection of monologues and ensemble pieces about clothes and the memories they invoke,” according to its official website.
Instead of just putting on a reading of the play, Grady asked her co-stars if they liked the idea of making the event a fundraiser for Elgin’s Community Crisis Center.
The nonprofit agency provides assistance to individuals and families dealing with life crises.
It wasn’t just the clothes that got Grady excited to bring the show to Elgin, but how it talks about women’s relationships and how they relate to — and remember — clothes.
She’d seen a performance in Chicago.
“I had gone ... with two friends for a matinee, and just laughed,” Grady said. “This is our friends and everybody I know.”
She asked friend Richard Pahl to direct. Initially, Grady said, Pahl feared the production “might have too much estrogen in it for him,” Grady laughed.
But after reading the script, Pahl was in, Grady said.
She also suggested the cast — some of her best Elgin friends — Risé Jones, Barb Keselica, Danae Molitor, Cherie Murphy and Karen Schock.
“I said I would cast it. I have friends that I know would be perfect for the characters — and after the first rehearsal, I knew we were dead-on,” Grady said.
“I love these women, and I knew that they were good in front of a crowd and are expressive … and would be perfect” for the roles, Grady added.
It was after the first rehearsal that the cast talked about making the show into a fundraiser. They don’t expect to make a lot of money, Grady said, but since the performance rights were covered by Charles Burnidge, there is the possibility of making money on the ticket sales.
Plus, she added, because many of the performers are high-profile Elgin personalities, just their friends coming to the show means they have a built-in audience.
The Crisis Center seemed the perfect fit for a fundraiser, Grady said.
Crisis Center Executive Director Gretchen Vapnar said she’s excited about the performances.
“When I looked at all of the people who have been our friends for many years who are doing this, and the benefit to the Crisis Center, it feels good all the way around,” Vapnar said.
“We have put the word out, and it will be a big party,” Vapnar said.
The show talks about several different women’s experience with clothes, and how that relates to their relationships with other women in their lives, and themselves.
There are sections on women and their mothers, women and their purses, and women in relationship to their closets, and the dressing room at stores.
“These are things that are not new to me. I have friends that have mastectomies, have had weight issues … it is about growing up female,” Grady said.
“This is about a piece of clothing that meant something to us in our lifetime,” Grady said.
She has her own memories surrounding clothes.
There was her junior prom dress that ended up being worn by another girl that year. So Grady asked to get the dress for her senior prom made. She had plans for a low-cut top with a split up the skirt. Her mother and grandmother, however, had other ideas and told the seamstress.
“It was not low-cut, and it did not have a slit, because grandmother and mother talked to the seamstress, too,” Grady laughed.
Then there is the dress she wore just once, to her husband’s funeral. She will never wear it again, Grady said, but will not give away the dress either.
Men shouldn’t worry that there is too much “estrogen” in the play for them, Grady added. If anything, it will help them understand the women in their lives a little better.
“I think it will give them a little understanding of why they are waiting 45 minutes downstairs for their wife or girlfriend to get ready,” Grady said. “It is because clothing is so important. They will get an understanding on what women are thinking about their clothes.”
Reservations for the performances can be made by calling 847-697-2615 or by email at email@example.com.