Wednesday, October 15, 2014



Esther Mills, at the turn of the twentieth century, has been working virtually around the clock to fashion a better life for herself.  Fueled by a dream of owning an elegant beauty parlor catering to African-American women like herself, she has scrimped and saved every dollar she has earned stitching personal items, undergarments and dresses, for females.  Her crazy quilt lining on her bed is the "bank" in which her future is stored.

Sturdy and plain and now thirty-five in age, Esther has witnessed dozens of girls, from the rooming house of Mrs. Dickson where she resides, take the path to matrimony. Just when hope seems most elusive, she receives a letter, a love letter, from a Jamaican laborer George Armstrong working on the Panama Canal.  Suddenly Esther's prospects for happiness begin to shine, like an early morning sun after a night of rain.

Lynn Nottage's "Intimate Apparel" will be beautifully hung on a clothesline for your inspection at Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, November 1.  Allen Moyer's layered set moves seamlessly from Esther's single boarding room to her friend Mayme's space where she entertains her paying make guests to the workshop of Mr. Marks, where Esther purchases her material to the home of Mrs. Van Buren, a wealthy white woman who employs her services.

As a modest spinster, Esther (Nikki E. Walker) is intrigued when she receives a letter from the physical laborer George (Isaiah Johnson).  She seeks the help of Mrs. Van Buren (Leighton Bryan) and even Mayme (Heather Alicia Simms) to help her write a reply since she can neither read nor write.  Her land- lady Mrs. Dickson (Aleta Mitchell) doesn't approve of Esther's correspondence with a strange man, especially when she has prospects of her own closer to home to promote.

The high points of Esther's week are her visits to Mr. Marks (Tommy Schrider), the Jewish shopkeeper who saves her the finest of his merchandise.  The inappropriate feelings they have for each other are not allowed to grow or flourish.  Esther's choices, although made with a true and loving heart, bring her heartbreak but do not destroy her worthy soul.  Mary B. Robinson directs a story of sensitivity and sorrow, longing and love that will long resonate in your memory.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Stand up with Esther as she balances triumph and tragedy in a life that is both blessed and cursed.

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