Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

02/03/2013 - 23/03/2013

Production Details


Featuring: Claire Dougan, Dame Kate Harcourt, Jennifer Ludlam, Lara Macgregor, Ginette McDonald, Barbara Power, Alison Quigan, Nadya Shaw Bennett, Rima Te Wiata, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and Sara Wiseman.

‘Best of the year.’ – Time Out New York

Proving that a great show is always in fashion, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, with its starry rotating cast of New Zealand’s finest actresses and compulsively entertaining subject matter, will become the toast of the year.

This intimate collection of stories is a bittersweet meditation on the joys and tribulations of women’s lives, reflecting on the female wardrobe as a time capsule of a woman’s life. The late Nora Ephron (Julie and Julia, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle) and her sister Delia Ephron have culled monologues from Ilene Beckerman’s bestselling book and from recollections of Ephron’s friends. The show uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell funny, poignant stories that all women can relate to, reaching out to those sifting through their closets in search of what they’ve loved and lost.

Says director Lara Macgregor: “The irony is that this play was recommended to me on two occasions by men, when at first glance you would think this is a play about and for women. It is indeed a poignant and funny glimpse into many aspects of womanhood, but tugs at the heartstrings when least expected, by traversing the delicate connections between mother and daughter, father and daughter, sisters, and friends.” 

Lara adds: “This is also an opportunity to celebrate Nora Ephron, who sadly passed away last year. She has made such a significant contribution to storytelling in our theatre and movie world in her lifetime. To be presenting the New Zealand première of this play is truly a privilege.” 

Love, Loss, and What I Wore is structured in such a way that it lends itself to a new cast each week. This has resulted in some of the best actresses in the country gracing the Fortune stage.

Says Lara: “We wish we could keep these amazing actresses and the play rotating all year. A three week season is just sometimes not long enough.” 

2010 Drama Desk Award
2010 Audience Award

Venue:  Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin 9016
Production Dates:  2 – 23 March 2013
Running Time:  90 minutes without interval
Tuesday, 6.00pm / Wednesday – Saturday, 7.30pm / Sunday, 4.00pm
(no show Monday)

Tickets:  Gala (first 5 shows) $32, Adults $40, Senior Citizens $32, Members $30, Tertiary Students $20, High School Students $15, Group discount (10 +) $32, Ladies Night $45
Bookings:  Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin
Box Office 03 477 8323 or visit 

Lunchtime Bites / Thursday, 28 February meet at 12.15pm in the Dunedin Public Library, ground floor. Alison Quigan, Rima Te Wiata, Lara Macgregor, Claire Dougan and Nadya Shaw-Bennett will perform an excerpt from Love, Loss and What I Wore with an opportunity to win tickets. Reading will commence at 12.30pm followed by afternoon tea. This is a FREE event.

Opening Night / Saturday, 2 March 7.30pm, Fortune Theatre.

Members’ Briefing / Sunday, 3 March meet at the Fortune bar at 3.00pm and join Fortune Theatre Artistic Director Lara Macgregor for a lively informal chat about Love, Loss and What I Wore

Forum / Tuesday, 5 March Q & A session with the cast and crew after 6.00pm show.

Fortune Sociable Club / Wednesday, 6 March meet in the bar at 6.30pm and meet like-minded individuals and get connected.

Ladies’ Night / Thursday, 21 March grab your girlfriends for the most talked about show of the year. FREE glass of bubbles on arrival plus receive a goodie bag and be in to win fabulous spot prizes on the night. Doors open 7.00pm; show starts 7.30pm, $45 a ticket, bookings essential.

Audio Described Support Package Available / an audio described support package is available for this performance. Offered in collaboration with Experience Access for visually impaired patrons and friends.  

Week 1 Cast - 4 March - 10 March
1. Alison Quigan  2. Rima Te Wiata  3. Lara Macgregor  4.Claire Dougan  5.Nadya Shaw-Bennett

Week 2 Cast - 11 March - 17 March
1. Ginette McDonald  2.Rima Te Wiata  3.Jennifer Ludlam  4.Sara Wiseman  5.Claire Dougan 

Week 3 Cast - 18 March - 23 March 
1. Dame Kate Harcourt  2.Rima Te Wiata  3.Jennifer Ward-Lealand  4.Barbara Power  5.Claire Dougan 

Set Designer:  Peter King
Lighting Designer:  Peter King
Sound Designer:  Lindsay Gordon
Costume Designer:  Maryanne Wright-Smyth
Stage Manager:  Rebecca Tapp 

1hr 30min, no interval

Costume drama takes on a different meaning

Review by Barbara Frame 04th Mar 2013

It’s all about the clothes. Women’s lives have changed considerably in recent decades, but the selection, mixing, matching, agonising about the colours, the hemline, the shoes, the bag, and the lamentations about wardrobe inadequacies in general, continue to be a daily fact of life. On important occasions such as first dates and weddings the agonies, and the attendant shopping, become overwhelming. And at times of stress and sadness, certain items of clothing can offer consolation and hope.

Running through Love, Loss and What I Wore are the story of the much-married Gingy and her significant clothes, and the sometimes benign, often destructive influence of mothers.

The play has 29 parts, all female, performed by 5 actresses sitting on high stools, addressing the audience and sometimes each other. The Fortune’s production features a cast which will partly change for each of the season’s three weeks. On Saturday night they were Alison Quigan (who plays Gingy, and who coped expertly with a technical fault near the end), Rima Te Wiata, Lara Macgregor (who also directs), Claire Dougan and Nadya Shaw Bennett – highly experienced actresses of varying ages and appearance who enliven and animate Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron’s acerbically witty script.

And are there any clothes to look at? Well, the actresses wear dissimilar black dresses (“Can we just stop pretending that anything is ever going to be the new black?”), and some of Gingy’s clothes are projected on to panels at the sides of the stage.

The play was greeted with delighted hoots of recognition from the largely female audience. There were some men there too, and I found myself sitting between two of them. “Not really for blokes,” opined one at the end. The other one, though, seemed to be having a great time.   


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Sartorial sassiness

Review by Terry MacTavish 03rd Mar 2013

Never doubt the emotional wallop packed by clothes: ah the memories!  I still blush at the hideous recollection of the merry laughter of sales assistants as my mother trilled, “I can’t think why she wants a brassiere – she’s got nothing to put in it!” Then there was the boyfriend’s uncontrolled mirth at the fashionable and expensive patterned tights…

As most women and a good few men have similar excruciating moments defined by their garments, it is easy to see why the Midas-touch Ephron sisters (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, This is My Life, etc) saw the potential in Ilene Beckerman’s best-seller book chronicling her life through her sartorial experiences. 

Beckerman’s cosy honesty as she tells the story of Gingy is so attractive that it might well have stood as a one-woman show. But Nora and Delia know their market, and have created an enormously successful showcase for five actors by asking one hundred of their friends to contribute, with topics like the First Bra, the Prom Frock, the Bride, and – horror of horrors – the Dressing Room. The audience are instantly on side, and grunts and squeaks of recognition greet every anecdote.

Clothes chart relationships too, starting of course with the terrible battles with mother (“Are you wearing that just to annoy me?”), and help a woman define herself – is she the demure powder blue prom gown or the sexy black outfit?  And ah the fun of trying on for size each of Madonna’s incarnations!

No searing social analysis here, but an underlying gentle feminism, if simply in the frank discussion of body ‘taboos’ and the focus on the details of a woman’s life.  The restrictions society puts on women are touched on nevertheless.  It was Nora Ephron who memorably challenged the graduates at her old college not to be ‘ladies’, after all.  “Break the rules and make a little trouble out there, and I hope you’ll choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women!”

Some might question why, with a positive embarrassment of accomplished suitable actors right here, the Fortune would bring in a cast from outside Dunedin. I had the answer when my guest, carefully chosen as usual for her specialist knowledge (in this case, a brilliant home seamstress) leapt up and down yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” as soon as she spotted the cast list of visiting ‘stars’. The current cast certainly do a great job, and the line-up for weeks two and three looks equally promising. Some audience members can be overheard planning return visits. 

Love, Loss, and What I Wore, like The Vagina Monologues, suits a rotating cast, as the actors need learn neither lines nor moves, and the play is constructed mostly around monologues, delivered in an impressive range of regional American accents.

The dynamics of movement attract me as much as words, so I tend not to favour static performances.  Lara Macgregor’s lively direction, however, creates relationships and interaction wherever possible, and makes the most of some fast and funny riffs with the actors snapping at each other’s heels with energy and precision.  

There is charm, too, in the style of direct address to audience which allows the actors’ own personalities to engage with us.  The programme enhances this with delightful photos and stories of the cast’s own fashion faux pas.

Alison Quigan exudes warmth and good humour as the Beckerman character ‘Gingy’, the one constant and real lynch-pin, starting with her Brownie uniform and working her way through some extraordinary marriage choices to a charming relationship with her little grand daughter.

The cast, however, work as a tight unit, with each member given the opportunity for at least one particularly resonating speech. Rima Te Wiata earns her round of applause with an absolutely wicked speech as a woman who cuts her clothes so as to maintain a bond with her man when he’s in prison. 

Lara Macgregor, who with great aplomb acts as well as directs, leads an amusing bit of banter between three sisters, while Claire Dougan has a touching monologue about breast cancer: “Look fabulous when you go to hospital”. Macgregor and Dougan impress particularly, though, as a duo whose stories of choosing wedding attire come together in a surprising and delightful way.  They carry off their scene very sweetly with welcome variation in timing.

Meantime a spirited performance by Nadia Bennett exemplifies every girl’s horror at the appalling choices her mother makes for her.

Swathes of warmly lit material make an understated and elegant backdrop (designed by Peter King) for the actors, who are seated downstage, with huge screens to the sides showing Beckerman’s charming, quirky drawings of the clothes she is reminiscing about.  Sound designer Lindsay Gordon has provided just the right little spurts of music to suggest each decade. 

The costumes, fetching black frocks, certainly justify a rapturous ode to black: “Can’t we stop pretending that anything is going to be the new black?” Maryanne Wright Smyth has exercised her ingenuity: eleven dresses to design, coming pretty soon after similar black gowns for Calendar Girls last December, with no style repeated!

Love, Loss, and What I Wore should bring in the same audience that flocked to Calendar Girls. It takes its place in the context of a year’s theatre: as promised, a complete contrast to the previous production, Michael James Manaia, the gritty alternating with the easily accessible. This is clearly the latter, the material sometimes hilarious, sometimes gently poignant, always recognisable.

It may not go very deep (don’t expect the cathartic effect of MJM) but it will win the hearts of many. That is clear from the surprising fashions in the foyer, where many women have been inspired to wear outrageous outfits from all eras. 

This admirable sartorial sassiness is what is celebrated,in a production that is unpretentious and beguiling.  


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