Sunday, January 5, 2014

STC to Stage Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

Shakespeare Theatre Company to Stage Oscar Wilde's Rich Comedy The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde's ‘trivial comedy for serious people,’ The Importance of Being Earnest, makes it way to the Shakespeare Theatre Company stage from January 16—March 2, 2014. With his talent for period plays, internationally acclaimed director Keith Baxter (An Ideal Husband, Mrs. Warren's Profession, The Imaginary Invalid, Lady Windermere's Fan) returns to bring this witty and intelligent comedy to life at the Company’s Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW).

Wilde, one of the best-known literary figures of the late Victorian period, mocked social decorum and codes of etiquette when he crafted The Importance of Being Earnest. His critical satire weaves together mistaken identities, imaginary characters, courtship and the undoing of upper class society in humorous ways, leaving the audience in fits of laughter. “Of Wilde’s other plays, this one is in a category all by itself. The Importance of Being Earnest, without any argument at all, is the greatest example of high comedy writing in the English language,” said director Keith Baxter.

The Importance of Being Earnest tells the story of Jack Worthing, a self-made man, who uses the alias “Ernest” in his high society life and with his love Gwendolyn when he is away from his country manor. When his acquaintance, confirmed bachelor Algernon Moncrieff discovers this game, he is eager to take on the pseudonym to woo Jack’s ward Cecily. What results is a flawless Wildean comedy of class, courtship, and lyrical wit. Both Jack and Algernon will jump over hurdles to keep up the charade to win the women they love and realize the vital importance of being earnest.

New to the Shakespeare Theatre Company stage, Siân Phillips will star as Lady Bracknell. Best known for her appearance on the BBC television series I, Claudius, Phillips has a long career history including many films, television programs and numerous theatre credits including Marlene for which she received a Tony and Olivier Award nomination. “Siân has worked with practically everyone and is a stunning actress. She won an Emmy For I,Claudius and became one of the iconic leading ladies of the postwar era.  It is wonderful that we have her here in this production,” said director Keith Baxter.

The Importance of Being Earnest is sponsored by Arlene and Robert Kogod. Additional support is provided by Maphook, Inc. and Share Fund. The media partner is The Washingtonian.

For tickets and more information, patrons can call 202.547.1122 or visit


New to STC is theatre veteran Patricia Conolly playing Miss Prism. She has performed on Broadway in Is He Dead?, Enchanted April, Judgment at Nuremberg, Waiting in the Wings, The Sound of Music, The Heiress, A Small Family Business, The Circle, Blithe Spirit and The Importance of Being Earnest. She spent four seasons with the  APA Company at the Lyceum and in Lincoln Centre’s Coast of Utopia and A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway, Conolly performed in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Hedda Gabler and Misalliance, Manhattan Theatre Club’s Woman in Mind and House and Garden as well as performances with Atlantic Theater Company and Irish Rep. Regionally, Conolly has appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire, Private Lives and Love’s Labours Lost at the Guthrie Theater, The Moliere Comedies at the Mark Taper Forum, Ghosts, King Lear, As You Like It and The Last Romance at The Old Globe (where she is an Associate Artist) and Antony and Cleopatra at Hartford Stage. Conolly’s international credits include productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Chichester Festival, the West End, Stratford Festival and Sydney and Melbourne Theatre Companies.

Playing the role of Lady Bracknell is celebrated actress Siân Phillips. Her Broadway credits include My Old Lady, An Inspector Calls, Regrets Only and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Internationally, her recent London credits include Cabaret (for which she received an Olivier nomination), Marlene (also received an Olivier nomination), Pal Joey, Calendar Girls, Rockaby, Night of the Iguana, Man and Superman, Thursday’s Ladies, Brel, Gigi and Love Song. Phillips also performed in People, A Little Night Music (Olivier nomination) and Major Barbara at the National Theatre and Great Expectations, Ondine and The Duchess of Malfi at the Royal Shakespeare Company. She can be seen in the films Dune, Gilgolos, House of America, Murphy’s War, Becket, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Valmont, Age of Innocence and Clash of the Titans. Television credits include the award-winning series I, Claudius and How Green was my Valley. Phillips received a BAFTA Best Actress Award and a Best Performer Award from the Royal TV Society for her work on I, Claudius and a BAFTA Best Actress Award for How Green was my Valley. Her other remarkable achievements include a BAFTA Wales Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, a Millennium Welsh Artist Award and she was named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen in 2000.

Anthony Roach returns to STC to play Algernon Moncrieff, having most recently appeared in the main stage and Free For All productions of All’s Well That Ends Well. His other STC credits include Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Liar and The Imaginary Invalid. In New York, Roach appeared in The Men with Primary Stages, You Can’t Take it With You and Separate Tables with TACT, Gaugleprixtown with Studio 42 and Cop Out for the Drama League/Fringe Festival. Regionally, he has worked on productions with the George Street and Cleveland Playhouses, the Dorset Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Kitchen Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, American Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, Arizona Theatre Company, Portland Stage Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Vermont Stage Company. He can be seen in the title role of the musical comedy film The Adventures of Buckskin Jack and Miles from Nowhere.

Gregory Wooddell plays the role of John “Jack” Worthing. He has performed in several STC productions, most recently as Sir Robert Chiltern in An Ideal Husband. Wooddell's other STC productions include Twelfth Night (Free For All), The Merchant of Venice, Cyrano, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lady Windermere's Fan, Othello, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Country Wife, Don Carlos, Richard II and The Comedy of Errors. He has performed on Broadway in Cymbeline at Lincoln Center Theater and in Girl Crazy at New York City Center Encores! His regional work includes the world premiere of Some Men by Terrence McNally at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, School of Night at the Mark Taper Forum, the world premiere of Miracle at Naples at the Huntington Theatre Company, Dissonance at Alley Theatre and A Midsummer Night's Dream for Shakespeare on the Sound, among many others. Wooddell's film and television work includes Exposed, 30 Rock, Third Watch, Paradise Virus, Guiding Light, One Life to Live and Days of our Lives. He trained in drama at The Juilliard School.

The cast of The Importance of Being Earnest also includes Katie Fabel as Cecily Cardew, Floyd King as Chasuble, Vanessa Morosco as Gwendolen Fairfax, John O’Creagh as Merriman and Todd Scofield as Lane. Ensemble members include Logan Dalbello and Lee McKenna.


Keith Baxter directs The Importance of Being Earnest on the heels of several successful STC productions, including An Ideal Husband from the 2010-2011 Season. As an actor, Baxter has performed as King Henry IV in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, The Duke in Measure for Measure and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, all for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. His work on Broadway includes A Man for All Seasons, The Affair, Avanti, Sleuth, A Meeting by the River and Corpse. Off-Broadway, he has acted in The Penultimate Case of Sherlock Holmes and The Woman in Black. His work also extends to film, with such credits as Chimes at Midnight (directed by Orson Welles), Golden Rendezvous, Peeping Tom, La Regenta, Ash Wednesday (co-starring Elizabeth Taylor), Berlin Blues and Merlin. A man of many talents, Baxter is also a playwright, whose original works include 56 Duncan Terrace, Cavell and Barnaby and the Old Boys. He is also the author of a book, My Sentiments Exactly, and has won a number of awards for his work as an actor, director and author. The most notable of these awards include a Bronze Medal from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he studied as a young actor, the title of Most Promising New Broadway Personality, a New York Outer Circle Critics Award and a Drama Desk Award for Sleuth.


The design team for The Importance of Being Earnest includes several STC veterans, whose collaboration creates a production that is fresh and artfully fitting with the period and style of Wilde's work. Scenic Designer Simon Higlett, Lighting Designer Peter West, Costume Designer Robert Perdziola, Sound Designer Jason Tratta, Composer Kim D. Sherman and Wig Designer Paul Huntley have translated Keith Baxter's opulent vision to the stage.


Numerous people also assist Keith in bringing The Importance of Being Earnest to life. He is assisted by Voice and Text Coach Gary Logan, Assistant Director Samip Raval, Production Stage Manager James FitzSimmons and Assistant Stage Manager Elizabeth Clewly. Casting for The Importance of Being Earnest was conducted by Stuart Howard and Paul Hardt, and STC Resident Casting Director Daniel Neville-Rehbehn.


STC's media partner for The Importance of Being Earnest is The Washingtonian. The Washingtonian magazine has been a steadfast and supportive Media Partner of the Shakespeare Theatre Company since 1999. Founded in 1965, The Washingtonian is the monthly magazine of the nation's capital and is known as "The Magazine Washington Lives By." The Washingtonian has won five prestigious National Magazine Awards and rates number one in market penetration of all city and regional magazines.

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
directed by Keith Baxter

DATES: January 16–March 2, 2014

LOCATION: Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th Street NW

TIMES: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., Wednesday, January 22, 2014, at 12 p.m.

TICKETS: $18 - $106. Premium seating is available for weekend performances. Special discounts are available for military, students, seniors and patrons aged 35 and under. Contact the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit for more information.

YOUNG PROSE: Every Tuesday at 12 p.m., STC releases an allotment of $18 tickets to patrons ages 35 and younger. $18 tickets are limited to performances through the following Sunday and are available in person at the Box Office and via phone at 202.547.1122. Advance tickets are available for $25. There is a limit of four tickets per person. ID is always required to pick up Young Prose tickets.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Lansburgh Theatre is accessible to otherly-abled patrons, offering wheelchair-accessible seating and restrooms, audio enhancement, and Braille and large print programs.

° An audio-described performance of The Importance of Being Earnest will be on Saturday, February 15. 2014, at 2 p.m.

° A sign-interpreted performance of The Importance of Being Earnest will be on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.

° Seating in the sign-interpreted and audio description section can be reserved by calling the box office.

PARKING: Paid parking is available at the PMI parking garage on D Street, between Eighth and Ninth streets, and the Colonial Parking Garage in the Lansburgh building (at 450 7th Street NW between D and E streets).

METRO: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station (Yellow and Green Lines) is one and one-half blocks south of the Lansburgh Theatre. Gallery Place-Chinatown station (Red, Yellow and Green Lines) is one block north of the Lansburgh Theatre at the Verizon Center. For further information, call Metro at 202.637.7000.

Box Office: 202.547.1122 (voice) TTY: 202.638.3863 Toll Free: 877.487.8849