A trivial comedy for serious people is how Oscar Wilde subtitled his well-known play that opens Wednesday [FEB. 20] in East Central University's Dorothy Summers Theatre.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" will be presented at 8 p.m. through Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for non-ECU students and senior adults. ECU students, faculty and staff will be admitted free with valid ECU ID cards. For reservations, call 580-559-5756.
Kassie Ingle, a communication studies/theatre major, is directing the witty British comedy as her senior project, which means she also oversees all the aspects of the production from costume and set design to assisting with props and overseeing anything else that helps bring the Victorian era play to life.
"I've always been a fan of British comedy," she said. "I've read this play a lot. I've loved it forever. It's extremely funny."
Wilde presented an exaggerated picture of the Victorian era, Ingle said, and poked fun at things that were going on in the world. The plot has a few twists and even a surprise ending.
Jomain McKenzie of Jamaica will play Jack Worthing, a pillar of his community and the guardian of Cecily Cardew, played by Brook Haygood of Norman. Jack, however, pretends to have a brother named Ernest who leads a rather scandalous life. Ernest is really Jack's excuse to disappear for days at a time, supposedly to help his brother, but really to go to London to do whatever he likes.
Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax (Natalie May of Prague), but Gwendolen's mother, Lady Bracknell (Catie Caton of Sapulpa) forbids the match.
Gwendolen is the cousin of Jack's best friend, Algernon Moncrieff (James Hartsfield of Oklahoma City). Algernon also pretends to have a friend to whose deathbed he seems to be summoned whenever he wants to get out of some social obligation. Algernon has fallen in love with Cecily and asks her to marry him.
Gwendolyn and Cecily do not know each other but they have become fascinated by the name Ernest. Each mistakenly believes her fiance named Earnest.
"The play is almost mistaken identity on purpose," Ingle explained.
When Dr. Chasuble, the local rector (Chris Hicks of Allen), arrives and happens to mention Cecily's governess, Miss Prism (Kim Wren of Ada), things really get interesting.
The cast also includes Joseph Terrell of Elmore City as Lane, and Dustin Calaway of Ada as Merriman, both butlers.
"It is a play of wit," Ingle said. "The actors' lines have to be right on top of each other. A witty play is not funny if it's slow."
"It’s amazing," she said of her directing experience, "to go from a script to the gorgeous production we're putting on. It makes me feel good to see the things I've worked on so many hours now come to life."
Ingle and her husband, Daniel, have two children, Adryn, 6, and Brayden, 4. She is the daughter of Mike and Jan Russell of Calvin.
# # #