Janet Scott looks in one of the many mirrors at Après Vous Boutique on Moore Drive and pinches the fabric of her smart black dress to adjust it.
"Does this look OK?," she asks herself. "I don't know."
She could be a customer looking for a new outfit for an elegant evening out, but she's not. She is an employee of Après Vous, but more than that, on this Tuesday night, she's an actress getting ready to take the makeshift stage at the upscale consignment store.
"See," she says, laughing, "you hear that kind of stuff in the play. So it really fits here."
The play is Love, Loss and What I Wore, a 2008 work by writing sisters Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron. It is a collection of stories, based on the 1995 book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman, about women and their lives tied together by the clothes they wear, from wedding dresses to favorite T-shirts.
The production, a new show by On the Verge theater company, marks the troupe's return to site-specific shows — plays produced in locations where the action could have happened or that are relevant to the script.
On the Verge first made a name for itself with productions of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes in 2008 and Another Part of the Forest in 2009 at the Bodley-Bullock and Hunt-Morgan houses, respectively. The most recent site-specific show Jeffrey Hatcher's Three Viewings at Milward Funeral Home in 2011. Then the theater went to a traditional venue, the black box theater at the Downtown Arts Center, for a November 2011 production of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage.
"Carnage was a great experience," says Ave Lawyer, who has directed all the shows by On the Verge, of which she is a founder. "But I think we realized this is our brand. The way we work is we reinvent ourselves for a project. You find a project, you connect with it, you see who's available. I felt like John Calipari last year when all these women said they could" be a part of Love, Loss and What I Wore.
But unlike Coach Cal's mostly freshman-led men's basketball team at the University of Kentucky that won the 2012 national title, Lawyer recruited a highly esteemed cast of veteran actresses for the production that runs this weekend and two of the next three.
The cast of six women, who take on a variety of roles during the 90-minute, one-act play, includes Susan Wigglesworth, Samantha Doane-Bates and Scott, three of Central Kentucky's best reviewed theater artists during the past decade. Rounding out the cast are well-traveled Lexington actress Stephanie Peniston; Georgeanne Edwards, who has been off area stages for a while; and Erica House, who has worked behind the scenes on every On the Verge show.
Scott was the key to bringing the show to Après Vous.
"We wanted to have an environment that would suit the play, which is about clothes and women and issues," she says. "This was our first choice, and we are so glad it worked out."
The actresses, seated on stools, perform in front of displays of dresses and accessories, with room for an audience of 30. That is, in part, the reason for 10 scheduled performances (the show opened Thursday). The last site-specific show, Three Viewings, was revived to accommodate everyone who said they wanted to see it.
Connie Broomhall, owner of Après Vous parent company Stephen Lawrence Ltd., says having the company involved is good for business.
"What I loved about it is it's unique, because no one really does that in clothing stores," Broomhall says. "What I really liked about it was it brings the customer base right into the store. It's perfect for me."
Each performance will be followed by a reception during which patrons may shop, and they will receive a 20 percent discount. Hosting the production requires staff to accommodate after-hours rehearsals and performances, "but staff are asking for those slots because they're excited about this," Broomhall says.
It's a script worth getting excited about, Lawyer says.
"You don't see characters like this on stage anymore," she says. "These are strong women. There are no victims here. These women have made it, and experienced life with all its trials and tribulations and can look back with humor and objectivity. It's a nice voice we have found: strong, smart and mature."IF YOU GO
'Love, Loss and What I Wore'
What: On the Verge's production of Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron's 2008 play
When: 7:30 p.m. May 10, 11, 17, 18, 30, 31 and June 1; 2 p.m. May 12 and June 2.
Where: Après Vous Boutique, 183 Moore Dr.
Tickets: $25; includes reception and 20 percent discount at Après Vous. Available at Après Vous and Stephen Lawrence Ltd. stores, or call (859) 275-5577.