Little Theatre of Alexandria Intimate ApparelBy Laura & Mike Clark • Oct 31st, 2007 • Category: Reviews, Stand Out!
Listen to our review of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of Intimate Apparel [MP3 8:48 4MB].
Mike: This is another outstanding production. We have seen so many great shows this year and I am just so thrilled that so many shows are going up that are really well executed and great decisions for the venues. This was a fabulous show. I got caught up in the plot and could identify with all of the characters. It was outstanding.
Mike: Intimate Apparel is a play by Lynn Nottage. It takes place in 1905 New York City. The central character, Esther Mills, is an African American Seamstress who has created a successful small business by creating intimate lingerie and other apparel for the ladies in the city including upper class ladies as well as ladies of the night. She is also a romantic and she refuses to get married until she is in love. Esther is 35 years old and not married yet. This causes a lot of concern by her landlady who keeps trying to fix her up with men she knows, but Esther wants Mr. Right. She does start a long distance relationship through letters to George who works on the Panama Canal. Through these letters they fall in love and George comes to New York to marry Esther. We get to see a view of different classes of people and how they interact with Esther and we get to know them all pretty well.
Laura: The main character Esther was played by Lory Levitt. She was great. She was down to earth, but she was still a dreamer, although she didn’t have her head in the clouds. She was pretty realistic. I liked her scenes, especially the scenes she had with Mrs. Van Buren later in the show I thought were really powerful.
Mike: I really wanted the best for Esther. She was so sympathetic and so focused on her business. She had goals. I wanted her to succeed so much. Her friendships and her relationships grew in ways that she just couldn’t picture.
Laura: Our villain of the week this week is George, who came to America to marry Esther. George was played by Paul Morton. He did such an incredible job. I wanted a bus to hit him. Which is a compliment.
Mike: He started out in Panama where he would read the letters he was sending to Esther. Then we got to really know his personality when he actually got to New York and was married to Esther. That was the point where he needed a bus to hit him. I was so upset with him treating Esther wrong sometimes. And that audience on Sunday afternoon was a lot of older people and they were not pleased either. You should have heard the gasps at the situations that he created. We did talk to one couple after the show and I mentioned how we wanted a bus to hit him and they replied with “Yeah, but he had a hard upbringing.” You could see the controversy of whether you should feel sorry for him or not. It was a great juicy role and I think Paul Morton did a great job with it.
Laura: Mrs. Dickson the landlady was played by Robin Dorsey. She was kind hearted. She wanted the best for Esther and really thought of her as a good friend. But still the time period of Esther being in her mid 30’s and not married was just scandalous and she really wanted to fix that.
Mike: One of Esther’s clients was Mrs. Van Buren, played by Anne Marie Pinto. She was well off, but she had her personal problems as well with her husband and not being able to have children. It was just so intimate watching her open up to Esther as an equal and the thrill she got from helping her with the letters she wrote to George, since Esther was illiterate. That relationship grew through the show and then that relationship ended in such an unexpected way. That was another part of the show where there were gasps from the audience. It was just so unexpected.
Laura: Mr. Marks was the fabric supplier whom Esther would go to to pick up fabric for her clients. He was played by Nader Tavangar. He did a great job. It was interesting to see the relationship and their friendship build. They wanted to move into something else, but class and society, and their stations in life did not permit that. I really was sad because I really wanted the best for both of them.
Mike: They were such a cute couple together. I liked the tenderness they showed especially near the end of the show. I don’t want to give too much away and I realize we are giving a lot away, but there is just so much to talk about. The visuals in his shop were great. Then distance they stood from each other was important. The tenderness and the surprise and the emotions in the scenes with Esther and Mr. Marks were incredible.
Laura: Mayme, a prostitute who was also one of Esther’s clients, was played by Danielle Eure. She did a good job. She was not pleased with her station in life, but people brought her pretty things and she did what she had to do.
Mike: She also played the piano. She had her own dreams. I think all of the characters did have their own dreams. I think she was the one who could see the dream the most. Her scenes were also very powerful. They were not quite as intimate some of the other scenes. She was very open, but not real sympathetic I don’t think, but she was very open with her emotions.
Laura: The set of Intimate Apparel at LTA was incredible. It was a really good use of the space. They had layers so that George’s opening scenes were up on some sort of platform to show the distance between the two, but it was incredible.
Mike: Wow. I didn’t even think about that. The distance of him up high above the stage and reading his letters as being a metaphor for how far away he was. That was incredible. Good point there.
I really liked how the four different sections of the stage were used very well for each of the four characters. It was a nice use and really not too distracting. It would have been very easy to put a lot of dressing and other set pieces to make it a unique area and that would have slowed the show down. I think how they handled it was really nice. The costumes were a very important part of the show since Esther was a seamstress. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a woman get laced up and tied down into one of those corsets. I’m just amazed that women used to do that everyday.
Laura: You appreciated what we had to go through.
Mike: The only other time I’ve seen that was in the movie Titanic when Kate Winslet was being laced up by her mom. That was a symbolic scene too of being tied up. I think it was a really good scene to actually seeing her lacing up Mayme’s corset.
Laura: One of the costumes I liked actually was between Mr. Marks and Esther when he brought out the Japanese silk fabric for her to look at. It was just so colorful and bright. It was really pretty and then when Esther bought it, again just like her, instead of making something pretty for herself she made it into a smoking jacket for her husband whom she loved.
Mike: This is a historical piece, but I don’t think that should scare you from seeing this show. The language is very accessible, it very easily could be taken place today with some of the issues going on. The show is not designed for children. You should be 13 or older to see this show. And in the spirit of full disclosure I do need to say that we arrived late at the theatre so we did miss the first scene and I missed a couple minutes of the show because I was parking the car. Do keep traffic in mind in the wonderful DC region. Especially on the weekend when it is more unpredictable.
Laura: The show runs about two and a half hours long with one intermission. It is playing through Saturday November 17th. Wednesday though Saturday at 8 PM with the Sunday matinees at 3 PM at The Little Theatre of Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia. You will enjoy this show. Definitely recommend you go see it.
Mike: I also do need to disclose that LTA is advertising this show with ShowBizRadio and that does not affect our review of the show. And now, on with the show.
- Esther: Lory Levitt
- Mrs. Dickson: Robin Dorsey
- Mrs. Van Buren: Ann Marie Pinto
- George: Paul Morton
- Mr. Marks: Nader Tavanger
- Mayme: Danielle Eure
- Producers: Jennifer Lyman and Lynn O’Connell
- Director: Frank Pasqualino
- Assistant Producer: Margaret Snow
- Stage Manager: Margaret Evans-Joyce
- Set Design: Ken Crowley
- Set Construction: Jack Shaeffer and Jerry Wolf
- Assisted by: Thom Carr, Bud Clantanoff, Gail Cafardi, Steve DeVito, John Downing, Lee Kearns, Robert Krauss, Jon Hansen, Jeff Nesmeyer, Dan Remmers, Dick Schwab, Bob Spivey, Kurt Steinbacher, Rance Willis
- Set Painting: Kevin O’Dowd
- Assisted by: Anne Diefendorff, Bobbie Herbst, Sandy Kozel, Rance Willis
- Set Decoration: Nancyanne Burton, Allen Stuhl and Jean Stuhl
- Properties: Kira Simon and Joanne Tompkins
- Assisted by: Marcia Carpenter, Art Snow, Margaret Snow
- Lighting Design: Ken and Patti Crowley
- Master Electrician: Eileen Doherty
- Assisted by: Carolyn Caballero, Nina Caballero, Roberto Caballero, Robert kraus, Pam Leonowich, Michael O’Connor, Doug Olmsted, Nancy Owens, J.J. Stinson, Carrie Vernon
- Rigging: Russ Wyland
- Assisted by: Rance Willis
- Sound Design: David Hale
- Assisted by: Keith Bell, David Correia, Heather Franklin, Anna Hawkins, Bill Rinehuls
- Costume Design: Suzanne Maloney
- Wardrobe: Bobbie Herbst
- Assisted by: Rachel Alberts, Leighann Behrens, Donna Ferragut, Leslie Reed, Margaret Snow, Annie Vroom
- Makeup and Hair Design: Paul Morton and Bette Williams
- Auditions: Kevin O’Dowd, Bobbie Herbst
- Double Tech Dinner: Vince Carlisle
- Opening Night Party: Russ Wyland
- Photographer: Mitch Eaton
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2075.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.