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Old 11-19-2009, 10:39 PM   #1
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Cool Mother and Child Reunion Onstage: Rhea Perlman and Lucy DeVito

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Rhea Perlman can still remember when she realized her daughter Lucy DeVito was no longer her little girl. For years Ms. Perlman had bought her daughter’s clothes. But when she was 12, Ms. DeVito declared that she’d had enough of the Gap and wanted to start trolling secondhand shops.

“I was out,” Ms. Perlman said recently, as Ms. DeVito, now 26, sat next to her at the downstairs stage of the Westside Theater in Clinton. “I was out,” she repeated.

“You could not handle the vintage stores,” replied Ms. DeVito, the oldest child of Ms. Perlman and the actor and director Danny DeVito. “I was like, ‘Yes, old T-shirts!’ And you were like, ‘It’s too much!’ ”

This was not a scene from “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” the play adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron from Ilene Beckerman’s best-selling memoir about women and the role clothes play in their relationships.

The cast has changed roughly every four weeks, and on Wednesday Ms. Perlman and Ms. DeVito will join Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Wilson and Capathia Jenkins, playing a variety of women, including several mothers and daughters. Ms. Perlman and Ms. DeVito are the first mother-daughter pair to join the rotating cast, acting together through Dec. 13. (Ms. DeVito stays on until Jan. 3.)

Together Ms. Perlman and Ms. DeVito share a goofy, easy repartee; they are just famous enough to fascinate audiences and just quarrelsome enough to be relatable. And they’ll be the first to admit that their acting clan is not exactly the Barrymores, the Fondas or the Streeps.

“We’re more like Tori and Candy Spelling,” Ms. DeVito said with exaggeration, referring to a wealthier, infamously estranged Hollywood duo.

“I’m going to write a book about you,” Ms. Perlman said.

“And then I’m going to write a counterbook about you,” her daughter fired back.

When Nora Ephron first received a manuscript of Ms. Beckerman’s book “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” in the mid-1990s, she was struck by how the author used simple line drawings of her wardrobe to illuminate her personal tales of childhood, parenthood, romance and divorce.

“You don’t think of clothes as being anything other than part of the toy box of your life,” Ms. Ephron said in a telephone interview. “But it’s one of the first ways you define yourself in connection to your mother, and one of the first ways you separate yourself from her.”

Together, Ms. Ephron and her sister Delia Ephron solicited stories from friends via e-mail and conducted interviews to ask other women about their experiences. These anecdotes were combined with Ms. Beckerman’s story to create a play that was first performed as a staged reading at Guild Hall in East Hampton, N.Y., in August 2008.

This year the producer Daryl Roth (who is Nora Ephron’s East Hampton neighbor) transferred the play to her DR2 Theater near Union Square, then to the Westside, where it opened on Oct. 1.

Though the play bears some resemblance to “The Vagina Monologues,” which also ran at the Westside — both shows feature rotating ensembles of actors seated behind music stands, reading pieces about feminine subject matter — Ms. Roth said that “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” aspired to a different tone.

“It becomes philosophical on some strange level, even though on the surface it’s, you know, whatever,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s about feeling warm in your stories and remembrances. There’s a shared memory that people want to experience.”

Even so, Ms. DeVito, who previously appeared in the DR2 Theater production of “Love, Loss” (which also featured Joy Behar, Rosie O’Donnell and Parker Posey, among others), was asked for her consent before Ms. Perlman was invited to join her at the Westside. As the play’s director, Karen Carpenter, explained, “Sometimes you love to do things with your mother, and sometimes not.”

That Ms. DeVito ended up an actor like her mother and father was neither a result of excessive stage-parenting nor a rebellion against parental proscriptions.

Graduating from high school performances of Christopher Durang’s “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” to Brown University productions of Rebecca Gilman’s “Glory of Living,” she has always been encouraged by her parents, who have meanwhile not shielded her from the truths of the industry.

“We live a pretty real life within our Hollywood selves,” said Ms. Perlman, who in person is much more the doting mother than the sharp-tongued barmaid she played for 11 seasons on “Cheers.” “I’m not working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by any means. I think she’s smart enough to see that it’s not a walk in the park.”

Ms. DeVito, who has inherited considerable comedic pluckiness from both sides of the family, would nonetheless prefer to build a career on her merits. So far old-fashioned auditions have won her roles in Damien Atkins’s “Lucy” for the Ensemble Studio Theater and “The Diary of Anne Frank” for the Intiman Theater in Seattle.

Still, Ms. Roth acknowledged that there was a certain novelty in casting Ms. Perlman and Ms. DeVito side by side. “They’re so adorable,” Ms. Roth said. “I mean, they’re just like the cutest little people. You want to hug them.”

Ms. Perlman stands about 5 foot 1 inch, and Ms. DeVito is, well, shorter than that. As a fact of life, they have found common ground in their occasional difficulties finding clothing stores that sell petite sizes, as well as their ability to share each other’s attire.

“Whenever I go home, I go into her closet,” Ms. DeVito proudly declared, in a line that might well have been from the show.

“And things go missing when she leaves,” Ms. Perlman said. Ms. DeVito predicted that the experience of sharing a stage with her mother for seven shows a week would not strain their relationship.

“We’re not going to be living together,” she said. “We’ll have fun, and I’ll eat really well. It’s not like we’re doing ‘August: Osage County.’ ”

Ms. Perlman countered: “Next step. When we’re more evolved.”
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Old 01-22-2010, 03:42 PM   #2
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great article they were on the today show last yr
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:45 PM   #3
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that was a great Article
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