Two bachelors ditch their tiresome lives to win the hearts of two women who claim
to only love men named Ernest, which leads the men to change their names. However, in the midst of it all, these two struggle to keep up with their new identities. Moral of the story: being thirsty will get you nowhere.
Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, will be presented in the style of a modern sitcom by the University of Toledo Department of Theatre & Film December 2-4 at The Center for Performing Arts.
“Using the notion of sitcom is what makes the play more relatable to a younger audience. The characters are so funny that it is absurd,” said Christina Pinciotti, a fourth-year theatre major.
Ryan Hieber, assistant sound designer of the play, shares a similar opinion and believes that the story will appeal to the old and young, and adds that working with James Stover was a memorable experience.
“It fits an elderly audience. The sitcom version of the play also draws a younger crowd,” Heiber said. “Working with Stover was one of a kind; it was almost like he was working with a friend.”
James Stover joined the UT faculty in August after working as a visiting assistant professor of theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has experience working as a professional actor for 14 years and has performed off Broadway, on television, in regional theaters and in National Tours. He even assisted in directing The Amish Project, Hazardous, Indigenous Peoples, Urinetown, Godspell and Yank!
Stover, the director of the play, said that the set and costumes precisely reflect the time period.
“The relationships between the characters are timeless and as relevant today as ever,” Stover said. “The play is so well-written and well-constructed that it’s possible to have fun, silly, even wildly comedic moments while still being able to enjoy Wilde’s story.”
Pinciotti plays Gwendolen Fairfax, a sophisticated, intellectual, cosmopolitan and utterly pretentious woman. Gwendolen is fixated on the name Ernest and says she will not marry a man without that name. Pinciotti, who is an opposite of her character, describes her experience working with Stover as very productive.
“He arranged the most organized rehearsals she’s ever had. They always knew exactly what they were doing and that no time was wasted,” Pinciotti said.Trying to help in every way possible, Stover offered the performers several videos to watch in order to perfect their British accents.
“It is exciting to see the audience’s reaction as the performance unfolds”, says Xaverie Baker, first- year theatre major.
Baker plays Cecily Cardew, who like Gwendolen, is obsessed with the name Ernest and imagines a beautiful courtship in her imagination.
“When you’re watching a show, you’re looking at something created collaboratively and you just see the beauty, but being a part of a show lets you understand things that the audience doesn’t necessarily see and that has a different kind of beauty,” Baker said.
The tickets for plays are $15 for general admission, $10 for Seniors, Military and UT Faculty/Staff/Alumni and $8 for Students and Kids. For more details/tickets, visit the theatre department’s website. The show will take place December 2 – 4. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows begin at 2 p.m.