Linfield theatre students don corsets and English accents for the spring production of Oscar Wilde’s farcical comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest.” This masterpiece is probably the most famous of all comedies. Performance dates are Wednesday, April 16, Thursday, April 17, Friday, April 18, Wednesday, April 23, Thursday, April 24, Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall. (Please note, due to Easter, performance dates differ from the usual Marshall Theatre schedule.)
“The Importance of Being Earnest,” which originally premiered in the 1890s, revolves around the most ingenious case of "manufactured" mistaken identity ever put into a play. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play confronts “serious” institutions, such as marriage, and burdensome social obligations with witty dialogue and a satiric take on London’s high society.
Tickets are on sale now on the web and the box office opens Tuesday, April 8 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $9 for full price; $7 for seniors (62+) and Linfield faculty and staff; and $5 for students (any age, any school); with a $2 discount on all tickets on opening night, Wednesday, April 16. Seating is reserved. Tickets are available at www.linfield.edu/arts or 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 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. on performance days. The box office will also be open Saturday, April 26 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.
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 past fall – “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.” Costume Designer Laurel Peterson is creating the exquisite period costumes for the show.
It will be performed in arena seating, also known as “in the round.” According to Gupton, the intimate setup requires extra attention to detail for set design, lighting, and acting. For example, Guest Scenic and Lighting Designer Kristeen Crosser looked for low backs on the settees and other furniture to keep sight lines open.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” features a 13-member cast, with Nicholas Granato as Algernon, Heidie Ambrose as Cecily, and Murphy Jackson as Jack. Other cast members include Jenny Layton, Sammi Palmer, Jeremy Odden, Daniel Namazi, visiting French Fulbright teaching assistant Amandine Gravier, Daniel Bradley, Angie Aguilar, Madilyn Bechtel, Amanda Kern, and Conner Wells.
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.”
For more information, call 503.883.2292. The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible.