A classic comedy, first performed in the late 1800’s, opened last weekend for a five-week run at Theatre 29. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was in the audience of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and offers this review of the show…
Theatre 29’s first production of 2014, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde, starts off slow, but starting in the second act, the audience is laughing hysterically, so much so, that sometimes it’s difficult to hear the actors’ witty and frivolous banter over the laughter. Director Butch Pelfry has done a terrific job of bringing to life this classical farce that skewers Victorian customs. Jack, played by Ben Bees, and Algernon, played by Cyrus Short, have each created fictional identities so that they can escape tiresome situations, to hilarious effect. Bees gets all huffy about who has the right to eat his muffins, while Short is a vain dandy who makes wise cracks about everything. The beautiful and elegant Katie Van Sumerin and Lizzie Schmelling, as Gwendolen and Cecily, are two gifted actresses who trade razor-sharp lines. Schmelling’s expression as she confides to her Uncle Jack that she has a secret to share is worth the price of admission. Algernon’s aunt, the Lady Bracknell, perfectly portrayed by Kathyrn Ferguson, is easily horrified, to the audience’s great amusement, and is the true star of the play. Ferguson also designed the costumes, and the women’s costumes are especially lovely, as are the sets. Janet Peercy, as Miss Prism, plays an important role in the events of the play. Leonard Weber (Reverend Chasuble) is all sweet bluster as he woos Miss Prism. Marv Schmelling, as butlers Lane (in town) and Merriman (in the country), knows how to make a dry silent pause. The Importance of Being Earnest is full of misunderstandings, over-the-top characters, and zany misadventures, and by the end, we learn why it’s important NOT to be too earnest.

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