CHURCH HILL — Church Hill Theatre will open Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Friday, Nov. 1.
An international favorite since it opened in 1895, “Earnest” is a frothy triumph of the English language, poking fun at the (not so fine) manners of the British upper class. Wilde is sharply critical of Victorian institutions, including religion, marriage, finances and education, but with such witty humor that audiences and the characters themselves accept preposterous plot twists with wide-eyed good humor.
Jack Worthing is extremely wealthy but, as a foundling, lacks the “breeding” deemed necessary to marry Gwendolyn Fairfax, Lady Bracknell’s beautiful daughter. If Jack cannot have Gwendolyn, then his best friend Algernon, Lady Bracknell’s nephew, is no fit suitor for Worthing’s own ward, the innocent young Cecily.
The four young people eventually find their own ways to true love, thwarted by Lady Bracknell and assisted (perhaps) by Cecily’s governess, Miss Prism, and the local vicar, Dr. Chasuble. The “downstairs” staff in both London and the country add their own social perspectives.
Sylvia Maloney, who more usually manages large casts of singers and dancers in the theater’s musicals, directs the CHT production.
Debra Ebersole plays the gorgon-like Lady Bracknell. Christine Kinlock plays her daughter, Gwendolyn Fairfax, and John Beck plays her nephew, Algernon Moncrieff. Jack Worthing is portrayed by Howard Mesick and Jack’s ward, Cecily Cardew, by Cavin Moore. Sheila Austrian portrays Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess; Charles “Pat” Patterson has the role of Dr. Chasuble; Frank St-Armor plays Lane, Algernon’s wise butler; and Jim Johnson and Ronald “Speedy” Christopher Jr. share the role of Merriman, the servant at Jack’s country house.
Maloney also served as producer for this production. She was assisted by Tom and Pam Rhodes, who designed the set, while Jim Johnson and Carmen Grasso aided in its construction. Tina Johnson provided the Victorian costumes, with Doug Kaufmann as the lighting designer and technician, and Hester Sachse designing the sound. Jim Johnson and Speedy Christopher also serve as the co-stage managers. Steve Atkinson is the photographer.
The show will run through Nov. 17, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Church Hill Theatre offers an opening night special of two tickets for the price of one on Friday, Nov. 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.