Perhaps the English-speaking world’s most famous modern comedy, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest will take the stage soon at Church Hill Theatre. Directed and produced by Sylvia Maloney, the beloved play will run from November 1 to 17. Set in 1890s England, with razor sharp wit and unexpected plot twists, this comedy of manners has delighted audiences for more than a century.
Maloney’s cast includes some first-timers along with many Church Hill Theatre veterans. Debra Ebersole plays the gorgon-like Lady Bracknell, the formidable mother of spirited Gwendolyn Fairfax (Christine Kinlock) and aunt to the rakish Algernon Moncrieff (John Beck). Algernon’s wealthy friend, Jack Worthing (Howard Mesick), is both madly in love with Gwendolyn and protective of his innocent young ward Cecily Cardew (Cavin Moore), who is soon being wooed by Algernon. Sheila Austrian portrays Miss Prism, Cecily’s prim and proper governess, who herself is smitten by the dotty local vicar, Dr. Chausable (Charles “Pat” Patterson). Frank St-Armor plays Lane, Algernon’s knowingly wise manservant. Jim Johnson and Ronald “Speedy” Christopher, Jr. share the role of Merriman, the factotum at Jack’s country house.
Oscar Wilde pokes and jokes at the full range of attributes we now call Victorian. Education, religion, class and even the institution of marriage itself are the source of good-natured satire. Although filthy rich and extremely personable, Jack’s lack of “breeding” (he was found in a train station luggage locker) makes him an unsuitable Victorian marriage partner. Things are not as they first seem, however, and the plot unravels until all is made clear in the hilarious final scene.
Tom Rhodes is designing and building the set along with Jim Johnson and Carmen Grasso. Doug Kaufmann will design and execute the lighting while Tina Johnson is in charge of costumes. Jim Johnson and Speedy Christopher serve as the co-stage managers and Steve Atkinson mans the camera as the photographer.
The Importance of Being Earnest runs from November 1 to 17, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm. CHT offers special 2 for the price of 1 ticket on opening night, Friday, November 1 for those who reserve by phone. Call the box office at 410-556-6003 or visit the website www.churchhilltheatre.org for details and reservations.