The story of seamstress Esther on GREAT PERFORMANCES “Intimate Apparel” – September 23 at 9 pm

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Great Performances “Intimate Apparel”

Premieres Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS, and the PBS Video app.

Set in Manhattan in 1905, Great Performances: Intimate Apparel tells the story of Esther Mills (Kearstin Piper Brown), a single African American seamstress who makes elaborate corsets and ladies’ undergarments. After beginning a letter-writing relationship with a mysterious laborer on the Panama Canal, she marries, but discovers the relationship is not what either of them expected.

two actors on stage in play set in 1905. female looking at rolls of fabric with man looking on.
Kearstin Piper Brown and Arnold Livingston Geis in “Great Performances: Intimate Apparel.”

Through this romance and other interactions with friends, one of her clients, and the Orthodox Jewish man who sells fabrics to her, Esther realizes that only her self-reliance will see her through life’s challenges. Featuring music by Ricky Ian Gordon, a libretto by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage based on her play, and direction by Tony winner Bartlett Sher, Great Performances: Intimate Apparel premieres Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS, and the PBS Video app as part of Great Performances’ 50th anniversary season.

Sung in English from Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, the production was recorded in March 2022. The opera was developed by Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera as part of the Met/LCT New Works Program. Great Performances: Intimate Apparel cast also includes Justin Austin (George Armstrong), Adrienne Danrich (Mrs. Dickson), Arnold Livingston Geis (Mr. Marks), Naomi Louisa O’Connell (Mrs. Van Buren), and Krysty Swann (Mayme).

Throughout its 50-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. Showcasing a diverse range of artists from around the world, the series has earned 67 Emmy Awards and six Peabody Awards. The Great Performances website hosts exclusive videos, interviews, photos, full episodes and more. The series is produced by The WNET Group.

three black women actresses onstage. Play takes place in 1905 Manhattan i
Justin Austin, Adrienne Danrich and Kearstin Piper Brown in “Great Performances: Intimate Apparel.”
Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography

Great Performances is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

A production of Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera in association with The WNET Group, Great Performances: Intimate Apparel is directed for television by Gary Halvorson and produced by Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik; Tim Martyn is music producer, Mia Bongiovanni is supervising producer, and Peter Gelb and Adam Siegel are executive producers.  The opera was developed by Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera as part of the Met/LCT New Works Program, a co-venture between the two institutions which is dedicated to developing new opera and music theater works. For Great Performances, Stephanie Dawson is post-production producer, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.