FACTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST:
Opened: Original Production - 14 February, 1895; 2011 Broadway Revival - 13 January, 2011
The Importance of Being Earnest Director: Brian Bedford
The Importance of Being Earnest Written By: Oscar Wilde
Broadway Theatre: American Airlines Theatre
Tony Award Nominations (2011 Revival): 3
Tony Awards Won (2011 Revival): 1
Notes: Oscar Wilde's last play.
The Importance of Being Earnest is the most popular, and final, play by celebrated playwright Oscar Wilde. Events at the play's opening at the legendary St. James Theatre would eventually lead to lengthy trails and imprisonment for Wilde, and the closing of the original production after only 86 performances. Wilde's downfall only lend a further sense of import to the play whose central theme is the triviality with which it treats the very serious minded institutions of Victorian society.
The story follows Algernon Moncrieff, an idle member of Victorian society and his friend "Earnest" who visits to ask Algernon for his cousin Gwendolen's hand in marriage. Algernon convinces Earnest to admit he's leading a double life as Jack in the country, and confesses a similar double life of his own. Jack's betrothal to Gwendolen hits a snag when Gwendolen's mother, Lady Bracknell, discovers Jack's somewhat less rosy societal status and forbid the marriage. Gwendolen is also rather dissapointed Jack is not really named Earnest.
The story moves to Jacks' country home, where Algernon takes up the mantle of "Earnest" in order to romance Jack's ward, Cecily. Cecily is interested, but Jack's arrival and announcement of "Earnest's" death complicates matters, which are only further complicated when Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell arrive as well. The prospective marriages of both men are on the line when a revelation about Jack's true identity smooths things over.
As with any play with such a long history and distinguished pedigree, numerous revivals have been mounted over the years. While Wilde's reputation was a hinderance at first, that changed, bringing with it new critical appreciation for the work. The most recent is a 2011 revival on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. This production earned 3 Tony nominations and won in the category Best Costume Design of a Play for its authentic period costumes.
While modern society is perhaps not quite so serious-minded as the Victorian one satirized by The Importance of Being Earnest, the comedy is no less entertaining. Don't miss the opportunity to see this enduring stage classic.
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