Arkansas Repertory Theatre
“Intimate Apparel,” a play by Lynn Nottage, is a story based on the lives of working-class New Yorkers in 1905. The central character is Esther, a middle-aged African-American spinster desperate for love, played by audience favorite Kellie Turner. She is a seamstress who sees other people’s relationships unraveling around her and who has a fantasy relationship with a heavily-accented mystery man, George Armstrong (Hisham Tawfiq), who suddenly starts mailing her intimate letters from the Caribbean.
The audience first gets to know George in the form of monologues, which were, unfortunately, sometimes hard to decipher. But we hung on to every understandable word, thanks to his storytelling style. As George tells the stories of construction on the Panama Canal, he walks the stage freely. All other supporting characters are confined to four separate areas of the stage, each representing aspects of Esther’s life.
The raised set in the middle is Esther’s favorite fabric store, where we watch her romantic relationship with the Jewish salesman grow and fizzle awkwardly. It is a relationship ahead of its time. To the side is her best friend, Mayme, the piano-playing prostitute (Sherry Boone), whose vulgarities and spontaneous performances bring some comic relief and awkward tension to the audience. In another section is Esther’s rich white socialite client (Margot Ebling), who tells Esther about her cheating husband as she inspects her new corsets in the mirror. The fourth set is her room at the women’s house, where she keeps her blanket sewn with money she is saving to open her own business.
Esther’s concern for the quality of fabric works well to convey the play’s themes of class and society. This seamstress knows the difference between fine fabric and cheap imitations, but unfortunately doesn’t have the experience in love to recognize fakes.
The classic story of love and betrayal, with its twists and quick pace and the hearts of the characters, make this a play not to be missed. “Intimate Apparel” continues through May 7 on the Rep’s Main Stage. “The Retreat From Moscow” concludes on the Rep’s Second Stage on Sunday, April 30. Call 378-0405 for tickets and showtimes.
— Amy Bowers
Skating heats up ice
We’ve now seen everything from “Grease on Ice” to Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” which ran for five days at Alltel Arena. I guess you could put pretty much anything on ice, presuming you’ve got skaters who can stay on their skates and do the occasional double axel. I mean, bring on “Cabaret on Ice” for gosh sakes, and let Sally Bowles go all slinky around her new man. We need a “Whatever on Ice” geared toward the adults.
Disney’s concern, of course, is entertaining the kids and while separating adults from their money, in as many 20s as possible. While we expected to be bored silly by yet another one of these Disney on Ice deals, “The Incredibles” surprised us. There wasn’t quite the color of the “Finding Nemo on Ice” show from last year, but the overall skating talent among the 40-person troupe was much more on display than these other cartoons on ice.
Top professional skater Michael Kuluva was part of the show, playing Dash, the son of Bob and Jane Parr, and brother to Violet. The characters make up the Incredibles family: by day, a regular All-American clan, but make them mad and they can do some mighty incredible stuff. This, of course, is all based on the hit Pixar movie “The Incredibles,” and Disney just straps skates on everyone, including Mickey and Minnie, for an icy good time.
Here’s the storyline: The Parrs are taking a family vacation to Disneyland. When Mickey and Minnie are kidnapped, the Parrs get new costumes made, become the Incredibles and save the day.
The children in the audience were given arm bands fixed with buttons to push and a little red light to help the Incredibles do their heroic stuff. Frozone, another “Incredibles” character with, I guess, the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, also helps out and gets everyone excited.
For those that held on to some of their dead presidents, good (or bad) news: Feld Entertainment, which puts on Disney on Ice, will bring Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus back to Little Rock Aug. 23-27. They’ll surely have plenty of $22 toys that you’ll be forced to buy, or either put up with a crying kid for two hours.
— Jim Harris