Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Importance of Being Earnest Breaks New Ground for PICT

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Melissa Hill Grande
Associate Artistic Director and Director of Marketing
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PICT offers lavish, hilarious, all-male Importance of Being Earnest

Irish director Conall Morrison helms spectacular production he originally created for Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre

Pittsburgh, PA – July 25, 2011. The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the greatest comedies of all time, opened on Valentine’s Day, 1895. For playwright Oscar Wilde, it was the moment of his greatest triumph and the beginning of his downfall.

Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre pays tribute to the great playwright and his masterpiece with a vibrant and stylish production of his comic masterpiece, anchored by two of Ireland’s favorite sons – Conall Morrison and Alan Stanford – and featuring a cast comprised entirely of gentlemen. Director Morrison’s landmark production, which was a sell-out hit at the Abbey Theatre for two consecutive seasons, begins in The Brasserie Dauphine, Paris, 1900, three months before Wilde's death. In the brief prologue (written by Morrison), we find Wilde breakfasting on champagne and absinthe. Surrounded by the splendor of Art Nouveau and the beauty of the young waiters, he recalls the glory of Earnest, casting the play from the café’s elegant male clientele and assaying the plum role of Lady Bracknell himself.

Morrison joins PICT for the first time this summer, but his credits are legendary. He is a former associate artist with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, where his adaptation of Patrick Kavanagh’s novel Tarry Flynn and production of Dion Boucicault’s The Colleen Bawn began before transferring for acclaimed runs at Britain’s Royal National theatre. This year, Conall has directed the Abbey’s revival of Brian Friel’s Translations and Arthur Miller’s classic play The Crucible, which was the grand opening production at the new Lyric Theatre in Belfast. He directed the American premier of Boublil and Schoenberg’s musical Martin Guerre for Cameron Mackintosh at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis along with many other productions for the Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the English National Opera.

Stanford is well-known to PICT audiences as the director of the stunning 2008 production of Salome and the Pinter Celebration’s much-lauded productions of Betrayal and Celebration. He makes his PICT acting debut as Oscar Wilde/Lady Bracknell in Earnest, though local audiences may remember Stanford for his portrayal of Pozzo in the Gate Theatre’s touring production of Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, Waiting for Godot, which visited Pittsburgh in 2006. This critically-acclaimed performance has toured the world, and is featured as part of the “Beckett on Film” series. A prominent actor at Dublin’s Gate Theatre for more than three decades, Alan has received, among many other awards and accolades, a Harvey’s Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance as Salieri in Amadeus, and nominations for his performances as Astrov in Uncle Vanya, Higgins in Pygmalion, and Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. As director and actor, he is widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the plays of Oscar Wilde.

PICT’s 2011 Actor in Residence Leo Marks will play the suave Algernon Moncrief. A company member in PICT’s extraordinary Pinter Celebration, Marks was also featured in PICT’s recent productions of Antony & Cleopatra and House & Garden. The OBIE award-winning actor has appeared at some of the most respected theatres in the country, including The Shakespeare Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Actors Theater of Louisville, the Old Globe, and Intiman. He is also a founding member of New York’s acclaimed Elevator Repair Service.

David Whalen returns to PICT this season to play the charming Jack Worthing. His PICT credits include Pinter Celebration, Doubt, President George W. Bush in Stuff Happens, Julius Caesar, An Ideal Husband, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. For his work in four PICT productions, David was named Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2007. The Lieutenant of Inishmore was remounted at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in 2008, winning David that city’s Kevin Kline award for Best Actor. He has performed with some of the country’s most respected companies, including South Coast Repertory, the Shakespeare Theatre of D.C., Folger Theatre, Round House Theatre, as well as Pittsburgh’s excellent City, Public, and Quantum Theatres.

CMU alumnus Will Reynolds and young New York-based character actor Matthew Cleaver were chosen for the plum roles of Gwendolen and Cecily following an extensive national search. Reynolds was in the PICT 2004 production of Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance and recently played Frank Churchill in the pre-Broadway production of Paul Gordon’s musical version of Jane Austen’s Emma at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. His other credits include productions with West Virginia Public Theatre, Goodspeed, and the national tour of Mamma Mia. Cleaver is a recent graduate of Ohio University, where he earned a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance. His one-man show Gay Blues has been performed off-Broadway at Barrow Street Theatre.

The production also features James FitzGerald as Miss Prism, David Crawford as Canon Chasuble, Martin Giles as Merriman, and Dan Derks, Luka Glinsky, Dylan Marquis Meyers and Jordan Matthew Walsh as rent boys and gardeners.

PICT’s production retains the original scenic and costume designs from the acclaimed Abbey theatre production. The Art Nouveau Parisian café set is designed by the brilliant French scenic designer Sabine Dargent, who makes her PICT debut with The Importance of Being Earnest. The costumes are by acclaimed Irish designer Joan O’Clery, with additional costumes by Pittsburgh designer Joan Markert. The lighting design is by Jim French (Pinter Celebration, Rock ‘n’ Roll), sound design by Erik T. Lawson (Hobson’s Choice), and properties by Cory F. Goddard. The Importance of Being Earnest plays August 4-27 in the Charity Randall Theatre.

The Importance of Being Earnest Fact Sheet

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Adapted and directed by Conall Morrison

The Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland

4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Cast: Matthew Cleaver, David Crawford, Dan Derks, James FitzGerald, Martin Giles, Luka Glinsky, Leo Marks, Dylan Marquis Meyers, Will Reynolds, Alan Stanford, Jordan Walsh and David Whalen.

Design Team: Sabine Dargent (scenic design); Gianni Downs (associate scenic design); Jim French (lighting design); Joan O’Clery (original costume design); Joan Markert (additional costume design); Erik T. Lawson (sound design), Cory F. Goddard (properties)

Performance Dates and Times:

First Week:

Thursday -- Friday, August 4 - 5; 8 p.m. previews

Saturday, August 6; 8 p.m. opening night, followed by reception

Sunday, August 7; 2 p.m. matinee, followed by talk-back

Second Week:

Tuesday, August 9; 7 p.m. Professional Tuesday performance

Wednesday – Saturday, August 10 - 13; 8 p.m. performances*

Sunday, August 14; 2 p.m. matinee

*pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday

Third Week:

Wednesday – Saturday, August 17 - 20; 8 p.m. performances

Sunday, August 21; 2 p.m. performance

Fourth Week:

Tuesday, August 23: 7 p.m. performance

Wednesday – Friday, August 24 – 26: 8 p.m. performance

Saturday, August 27; 2 p.m. AND 8 p.m. performances

Ticket Prices:

Fri. and Sat. nights: $50; Seniors $48

Tues., Wed., Thurs. nights, and Sat. & Sun. matinees $46, Seniors $44

Preview Thurs. and Fri.: $40 for all seats

$20 tickets available for youth under 25, with valid ID

Call ProArtsTickets at 412.394.3353 or visit www.picttheatre.org

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. Great Stories. Well Told

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