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DeSales University’s Act 1 Presents “Intimate Apparel”

by Tom McNamara '92, M'21 Sep 20, 2023

Photo Caption: Maya Marino Cappello as Esther and CaSandra Kay as Mayme in Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel.” Photo by Jack Lerch.


Act 1 DeSales University Theatre is pleased to announce that Lynn Nottage’s emotional and poignant “Intimate Apparel” will be the opening production of its 54th season.

The Act 1 premiere opens on Wednesday, September 27, and runs until Sunday, October 8, on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. This year, Act 1 evening performances will start at 7:30 p.m.

Nottage, the first and only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice, tells the story of Esther, a black seamstress who, at the turn of the 20th century, sews intimate apparel for a range of clients from wealthy white housewives to prostitutes. 

As young women in the boardinghouse where she lives marry and move out, lonely Esther saves her money and dreams of a better life with a husband and her own beauty parlor where black women can be treated like royalty. A chance for love comes from the letters of a mutual acquaintance and Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal. 

“Intimate Apparel,” the 2004 New York Drama Critics Circle Award-winning historical play, offers commentary of the times and the struggle to achieve the American dream.

Directing the production is Barrymore and F. Otto Haas Award winning actor and director Akeem Davis, who has performed at DeSales with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in “Henry V,” “Love Labour’s Lost,” “Twelfth Night,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” His regional credits include the Arden Theatre Company and People’s Light. Davis is a graduate of The Florida State University. 

DeSales University alumna Jenna Snyder is the scenic designer, creating the period rooming house, and Philadelphia-based Leigh Paradise is the costume designer. Eric T. Haugen, head of design, serves as lighting designer and the production manager. David M. Greenberg is the sound designer.

“Intimate Apparel” opens on Wednesday, September 27, and runs through Sunday, October 8, 2023. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m., and Tuesday, October 3, at 9:45 a.m. Ticket prices are $23 for adults and $21 for students and seniors Tuesday through Thursday and $27 for adults and $25 for students and seniors Friday through Sunday. There are two talkback performances with the cast. The first will be on Sunday, October 1, after the 2:00 p.m. performance and one on Tuesday, October 3, following the 9:45 a.m. performance. 

Students who attend DeSales or any other Lehigh Valley college or university can purchase tickets for $8. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center Box Office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the website at

To improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, October 7, 7:30 p.m. performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Captioned performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset. Tickets are half price for patrons using these special services on this date. Please call Eric Pierson, box office manager, at 610-282-1100, ext. 1820, for more information.

The Labuda Center is accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.