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Theater preview: ‘Intimate Apparel’ and the desire for love

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The Department of Theatre and Dance will be exploring the themes of love and intimacy through the production of “Intimate Apparel.”

The story follows Esther Mills, a skilled African-American seamstress in New York city circa 1905. She sews intimate apparel for customers spanning across the spectrum of social class.

The show will run April 4-9 in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.

Director Melissa Maxwell said the audience will be able to find a connection with the characters despite the show taking place in 1905.

“‘Intimate Apparel’ is really about the five characters, and everyone is desperately looking for intimacy in their lives,” Maxwell said. “It’s one of those things that I think everyone can relate to because it is that search that we are all on in life, that soul to soul search of finding that one being who understand and recognizes us.”

Maxwell said the audience will be able to find the show relatable because it is relevant to today’s society and culture.

“People will identify with the story because we are still struggling with the same issues,” Maxwell said. “Esther finds herself in a place in life where she is desperate to find love. She’s 35 years old and has never been married. She doesn’t want to die having never been noted.”

Esther then meets a man from Barbados and begins corresponding through hand-written letters.

“Today, technology has changed, but that is no different than social networks and people trying to meet each other on dating websites,” Maxwell said.  “We are all desperately in search of our soul mates. Technology may have changed the way in which we are doing things, but we are still hardwired in that pursuit.”

Ashley Hildreth, theatre senior, will be starring as Esther.

“It’s about this woman who feels so alone. It can seem like she’s not necessarily desperate but just that there’s this need to be with someone that she settles for less than she’s worth,” Hildreth said. “People will connect with this idea of settling for less, and what happens when we settle for less.”

George Lamar, theatre senior, said plays Esther’s ambitious lover from Barbados.

“He’s working on the Panama Canal for a better life, and he starts dreaming and corresponding with Esther in New York. She basically sells him on the dream that is New York,” Lamar said. “He was used to the beauty of nature and that’s not what New York is.”

Lamar said he wants audience members to attend the play with an open heart.

“A lot of the time there’s a stigma with theater that it’s not relevant,” Lamar said. “I think (this play) can tell us more about our current dating situation when we take a microscope and look at this older situation.”

Tickets for “Intimate Apparel” are available at txstatepresents.com.