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Linfield theatre presents ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’

The Importance of Being Earnest, photo by Kristeen CrosserLinfield College theatre students will don corsets and English accents for the upcoming spring production of the Oscar Wilde comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The production will run April 16-18 and 23-26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield.

“The Importance of Being Earnest,” which originally premiered in the 1890s, is a farcical comedy in which the main characters maintain fake personas in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play confronts serious institutions such as marriage with witty dialogue and a satiric take on London’s high society.

Under the direction of Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts, the comedy is a change of pace following two dramatic productions by the theatre department this season – “Legacies of War Onstage” and “Ajax in Iraq.”

“We wanted a classic that would allow our students to work with sophisticated language and a heightened sense of reality,” said Gupton. “The show also provides wonderful costume and scenery opportunities.”

“The Importance of Being Earnest” features a 13-member cast including junior Nicholas Granato as Algernon, freshman Heidie Ambrose as Cecily and freshman Murphy Jackson as Jack. It will be performed in arena style, also known as “in the round,” which features the audience surrounding the stage. According to Gupton, the intimate setup requires extra attention to detail for stage design, lighting and acting. For example, Set Designer Kristeen Crosser looked for low backs on the settees and other furniture to keep sight lines open.

One challenging aspect of the play for cast members has been learning the British dialect and inflection patterns, Gupton said. But the challenge is balanced by entertaining rehearsals and the playful nature of the production.

“Working on a comedy always makes rehearsals fun and a bit crazy,” said Gupton, referring to the mood of the rehearsals. “Add to that corsets, fans, cucumber sandwiches, tea etiquette and the British dialect, which the majority of the cast is required to learn, and you have quite a circus of events unfolding.”

Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, April 8. Tickets are $9 for full price; $7 for seniors (62+) and Linfield faculty and staff; and $5 for students; with a $2 discount on all tickets on opening night. Seating is reserved. Tickets are available at www.linfield.edu/arts, by phone or at the Marshall Theatre Box Office. Located in the lobby of Ford Hall, the box office is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. on performance days.

Due to Easter, performance times differ from the usual Marshall Theatre schedule. There will be two additional Wednesday performances and no Saturday or Sunday performances during Easter Weekend, April 19-20.

For more information, call 503-883-2292. The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible.