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'Love, Loss, and What I Wore' Director 'In Shock' Over Nora Ephron's Death

Karen Carpenter, who recently opened Ephron's play at Asolo Rep, calls the writer "a light in our lives."

Nora Ephron, the prolific and insightful writer, producer and director famous for romantic comedies like "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail" and many others, has died after a battle with leukemia, her family confirmed on Tuesday. She was 71. Ephron's play, "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" is currently in production at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

Karen Carpenter, the original director who opened the first production of "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" in New York with Ephron and who directed the Sarasota cast, spoke to Patch Wednesday morning about the passing of her friend.

"Her warmth and her wit and her wisdom had the power to shed the light on the darkness and help us recognize ourselves," Carpenter said. "I'm really in shock."

Carpenter worked with Ephron and her co-writer sister Delia Ephron, to resurrect "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" after it had all but been shelved. Carpenter reorganized the play and helped gather the rotating cast of women and finally open it in 2008 in New York to critical acclaim and box office success.

"I’m glad. I’m very, very glad that I held onto that play and rescued it," Carpenter told Patch. "It lives on and rightly so. It could have just as easily not have happened had she not entrusted me with it."

Famous women have flocked to the play over the years, including actress Rosie O'Donnell, who wrote a story for it in Elle magazine when Ephron did a guest-editing stint, Carpenter said. 

"Nora showed it to me, and I said this is an amazing story because Rosie has the perspective of doing a reading of 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore' very early on when we were developing it," Carpenter said. "And she immediately said if you ever put it up, I want to open it with you."

Carpenter said Ephron's gift was the ability to gather the women's voices in this piece and honor other writers in the process.

"It’s a great loss for all of us," she said. "She was in the midst of so many projects – it’s just tragic."

Ephron's next play "Lucky Guy," about Mike McAlaryis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Daily News columnist, is slated to open on Broadway in January 2013, with Tom Hanks making his Broadway debut.

The Asolo Rep cast of "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" may make a statement after a matinee performance this afternoon, said Steph Gray, Asolo's PR coordinator. "We're hoping for something to be read after the show today, but it's all very to be determined."

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