Get your hanky ready, ladies
CHAMPAIGN — Fear, desire and medicine; postcards from Haiti; "better, faster, stronger"; recognition of women as they age; adoptions; incurable disease; body image, songs and dances ...
That's What She Said, in its second year at Krannert Center, returns July 19. Christie Clinic and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts are the main sponsors.
Beside professional performers like Morley, who brings a blend of jazz, folk and soul to the stage, it's also an opportunity for women to share their stories — and laugh their butts off.
Some of the posterior-reducing action will come from The Second City Training Center, which makes an appearance, but also from the local women who participate.
"Sho-conspirators" Jill Harlan and Kerry Rossow lead the dancing and singing at the Moffice. That's the mom's office, today a large blue room in Champaign where chocolate is readily available.
On a serious note, they are meeting with Jen Hays Schottland, who will tell the audience about the health and spiritual battles of her sister, Tricia Evans.
The sho-conspirators say the speakers don't have to be CEOs or movers and shakers; a single mom with three kids has a story to tell, Harlan says. "You don't have to be Mother Teresa or cure cancer," Rossow says.
She adds, "The best stories come from people who don't think they have a good story."
The event runs the gamut of a woman's life. A couple dozen women from Clark-Lindsey will sip a glass of champagne and then be driven in limousines to honor Dr. Lilian Katz, a pioneer in early childhood education at the University of Illinois.
The presentations have no rules, except that they have to be authentic. The event is not appropriate for children. Harlan said, "This American Life," "The TED Radio Hour" and "Saturday Night Live" provided inspiration.
The moms are interested in honesty, compassion, revelation, humor — and not in PowerPoint presentations.
They talk about their kids a lot. Harlan's daughter became obsessed with "The Hunger Games" and the spirit of fighting. Rossow has a Halloween costume story.
The Mofficemates can be rowdy, bawdy and piratey, employing hip-hop, odd dancing and songs about not having melanoma. They have scandalous things to say about Mr. Pants, a Pomerian.
Bailey Rotenberry can't think of any wisdom to add to the discussion. She's stage manager for That's What She Said and has more interest in lighting and keeping the event flowing. She'd like the piece to be cut to five minutes.
"Bailey is our voice of reason," Harlan says.
They like what Schottland has to say about her sister's battle with ALS, about "waiting, hoping, trusting." "Vanity is best cured by selflessness." In her critique, Harlan adds that "big sister" is a powerful phrase.
They move on to a video they made about finding a mole in a hidden place. The rap is unforgettable, "sticky," much more memorable than PowerPoint.
And now it's time for dancing! The stage manager asks whether Harlan's high heels have rubber surfaces.
"Actually, I'm just concerned about your safety," she says.
Rossow and Harlan begin a dance-off. All I can tell you is that "Dirty Dancing" looms large in their lives.
Speaking of which: Bigger expressions, nothing subtle, Rotenberry tells them.
"It's a large stage ... Overdo it until it feels stupid," she says.
"The hearing of the story is as important as the telling," she says later.
If you go
That's What She Said takes place at 7 p.m. July 19 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U.
The event ranges from world famous musician-activists to working moms who have never been on stage — and never would if we had not bribed them, organizers say.
The show will feature an exclusive post-party event called Backstage after 9 p.m. for people who want to get up close and personal with the speakers. Hosted by Christie Clinic's Dr. Jeremy Youse and The Second City Training Center, Backstage will include performances by Toshi Reagon and Morley, a Q&A with the two singers, wine and snacks provided by Bacaro and a chance to chat with the speakers.
Tickets are $30 each ($20 for students) for the main event and $60 ($50 for students) for Backstage by calling 800/KCPATIX, 333-6280, or TTY: 333-9714 or by visiting KrannertCenter.com.
More information is at shesaidproject.com/show/.