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Intimate Apparel - Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, CT, USA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta   
Intimate Apparel at Westport  Playhouse, Nikki Walker photo by RoseggExcellent from start to finish, do go to see the play Intimate Apparel at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. The play by the Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is directed by Mary B. Robinson and features the talented cast of Leighton Bryan, Isaiah Johnson, Aleta Mitchell, Tommy Schrider, Heather Alicia Simms, and Nikki E. Walker, and runs until November 1, 2014. The play is the finale of the 2014 Westport Country Playhouse season and is one definitely worth seeing.

 

Set in New York City in 1905, playwright Lynn Nottage weaves a story of hopes, dreams, and everyday lives that intersect through the central character of Esther, played by Nikki E. Walker, a single, very prim and proper Christian woman from North Carolina who makes her living as a seamstress creating exquisite intimate apparel for her clients which include the uptown socialite, Mrs. Van Buren played by Leighton Bryan, and the downtown "working girl" prostitute Mayme, played by Heather Alicia Simms.

Nikki E. Walker - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Nikkie E. Walker as Esther

For the past 18 years, Esther has lived in a boarding house owned by the kind hearted, if sometimes interfering Mrs. Dickson, played by Aleta Mitchell, who freely gives encouragement as well as disapproval whether asked for or not. Arriving alone at the boarding house as a young girl of 17, it is here that Esther learns to sew and to earn her living making intimate apparel. Now, at the spinsterish age of 35, after almost giving up hope of ever finding a man who would be interested in her, she receives a letter and finds that she suddenly has a suitor, a Mr. George Armstrong of Barbados, played by Isaiah Johnson, a laborer working on the Panama Canal, who received her name from a fellow laborer, who knew Esther from her church in North Carolina.

Aleta Mitchell, Nikki E. Walker - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Aleta Mitchell as Mrs. Dickson
Nikki E. Walker as Esther

When Esther tells her client Mrs. Van Buren about the letter she received, her client is delighted for her and when asked what Mr. Armstrong wrote in the letter, Esther shows it to her. Asked if she will write back to George, Esther acknowledges that she is illiterate and that Mrs. Dickson had told her to throw away the letter, as a decent woman would never reply to a letter like that. Mrs. Van Buren then offers to write the letter for her, and although married, she is in a loveless marriage whose husband finds intimacy other than in her boudoir, and she is excited to write the initial letter to George.

With each subsequent letter received and sent a romance builds, and when Esther shares the secret of her suitor with Mayme, whom she considers to be her best friend, she is excited for her. Soon Esther enlists Mayme's assistance in letter writing, and the two friends share their hopes and dreams. Mayme, a talented pianist who plays rag as well as classical music, longs for a life beyond the male clients she receives in her room, however has all but given up her dream. Esther dreams of someday opening a beauty shop with the money she has saved from her years of sewing.

Isaiah Johnson - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Isaiah Johnson as George

In the midst of the developing romance by mail, there is the underlying attraction of Esther and Mr. Marks, played by Tommy Schrider, an Orthodox Jewish merchant who sells the beautiful fabrics she uses to create intimate apparel for her clients. It is through their mutual love of fabrics that they find attraction to each other as well.

The play is beautifully and lovingly written, interspersing love, dreams, hope, and sorrow inspired by the life of Lynn Nottage's great-grandmother, Ethel Boyce. Director Mary B. Robinson delivers a tour-de-force performance from the talented cast, and the set design by Allen Moyer is brilliant.

Leighton Bryan, Nikki E. Walker - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Leighton Bryan as Mrs. Van Buren
Nikki E. Walker as Esther

Broadway veteran and television actor Nikki E. Walker delivers a commanding and heartbreaking performance as Esther, who captures the audience's heart with her dreams as well as subsequent sorrows, as does Broadway and film actor, Aleta Mitchell as Mrs. Dickson, the proprietress of the boarding house where Esther resides, who shares her life's story and past dreams with Esther.

Leighton Bryan as Mrs. Van Buren, who has Broadway and television credits, and Broadway veteran Heather Alicia Simms as Mayme, deftly portray their characters with such empathy than one cannot help but feel saddened by their situations, and Broadway actors Isaiah Johnson as George, and Tommy Schrider as Mr. Marks, also deliver impressive performances.

Nikki E. Walker, Heather Alicia Simms - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Nikki E. Walker as Esther
Heather Alicia Simms as Mayme

Intimate Apparel is the last play of the 2014 Westport Country Playhouse season. We saw the play on October 11, 2014 and it was the perfect culmination of an excellent season and quite rightly deserved the standing ovation it received. Bravo cast, well done!

The play runs until November 7, 2014.

Intimate Apparel

Lynn Nottage
Playwright
Mary B. Robinson
Director
  Allen Moyer
Scenic Design
Michael Krass
Costume Design
Eric Southern
Lighting Design
  Fitz Patton
Sound Design and Original Music
Leighton Bryan
Mrs. Van Buren
Isaiah Johnson
George
Aleta Mitchell
Mrs. Dickson
Tommy Schrider
Mr. Marks
Heather Alicia Simms
Mayme
Nikki E. Walker
Esther

Intimate Apparel runs from October 7 until November 1, 2014. Performances are held on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm, Wednesdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 3:00 pm.

Tommy Schrider, Nikki E. Walker - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Tommy Schrider as Mr. Marks
Nikki E. Walker as Esther

For information on the play or to purchase tickets, please call the box office at 203-227-4177 or call the toll-free number at 888-927-7529 or visit the website at www.WestportPlayhouse.org.

The Westport Country Playhouse Box Office is open during Performance Days Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 8:30 pm, Saturday from 11:00 am until 8:30 pm, Sunday from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm, and is closed on Monday. Non-Performance Days, the Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 6:00 pm, and is closed on Monday.

Isaiah Johnson, Nikki E. Walker  - Intimate Apperal - Westport Playhouse - Photo by Rosegg
Isaiah Johnson as George
Nikki E. Walker as Esther

The Westport Country Playhouse named as "Theatre Company of the Year" in December 2013 by The Wall Street Journal, opened in the 1930s in a transformed 1835 cow barn, which has, and continues to attract, a "who's who" of prominent actors. Looking at the framed posters of past shows that line the lobby walls was like entering an encyclopedia of the arts. A few of the many renowned actors who have appeared on the stage there include Ethyl Barrymore, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Don Ameche, Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy, Jane Fonda, Danny Aiello, Blythe Danner, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Dreyfus, Whoopi Goldberg, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Lynn Redgrave, Gene Wilder, and Westport residents Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.

"Westport Country Playhouse, a not-for-profit theater, serves as a cultural nexus for patrons, artists and students and is a treasured resource for the State of Connecticut.  There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build."

For information on upcoming events, staged readings, and other performances, please visit the website: www.WestportPlayhouse.org.

2015 Schedule of Performances

Play
Dates Running
The Liar by David Les, adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille
May 5 - 23, 2015
And A Nightingale Sang by C.P. Taylor
June 9 - 27, 2015
TBT (A Special Project)
July 21 - August 8, 2015
Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn
August 25 - September 12, 2015
Broken Glass by Arthur Miller
October 6 - 31, 2015

WEstport Playhouse - Westport, CT, USAWestport Country Playhouse  
25 Powers Court
Westport, Connecticut  06880
United States
Box Office:     +1-203-227-4177
Toll-Free:       +1-888-927-7529
Fax:               +1-203-454-3239
Box Office:    +1-203-227-4177
Website:       
www.WestportPlayhouse.org
Facebook:      
www.Facebook/WestportCountryPlayhouse

Follow the Westport Country Playhouse on Facebook at www.Facebook/WestportCountryPlayhouse.

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© October 2014. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com.  All rights reserved.

 
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