As the second production of our gala fortieth season, Oak Park Festival Theatre (the Midwest’s oldest professional outdoor classical theatre) presents Comedy’s crown jewel, The Importance of Being Earnest.Playwright Oscar Wilde subtitled his delicious diversion (the perfect recipe for Society en Brochette)  “A Trivial Comedy For Serious People.”  It sparkles with his most brilliant epigrams, bedazzles with his brilliant, biting bon mots, and glitters with his glorious absurdities. This is side-splitting satire in the most elegant and stylish incarnation.

But, beneath the bespoke tailored surface there is always the unavoidable truth: truth that Wilde noted is “never pure and rarely simple.” Indeed, although written at the zenith of his fame, this was to be Wilde’s last play. Within weeks of its premiere, that fame turned to infamy and Wilde went from being the toast of London society to being Prisoner C33.

Directing Wilde’s masterpiece is Oak Park Festival Artistic Associate Kevin Theis – most recently seen onstage at OPFT as Salieri  in last season’s record shattering Amadeus, as well as in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (for which he received a Jefferson Nomination for Best Actor), Faith Healer, Richard III,and Of Mice and Men.

The cast include Festival Theatre Artistic Associates Belinda Bremner, Mark Richard, and John Crosswaithe who are joined by Brooke Hebert, Elise Kauzlaric , Jackson McLaughlin, Brian Rooney, Lynda Shadrake, and Jude Willis.

The production feautures four Festival Theatre Artistic Associates. This will be Bremner and Theis’ at least seventh collaboration, not including their work together in the annual Festival Theatre /Prevail benefit, the Festival Theatre /19th Century radio series, and non Festival Theatre productions. Mark Richard is familiar to festival theatre audiences as the director of the record shattering Amadeus and from his appearances in Betrayal, Beyond the Fringe, and Richard III. Newest member, John Crosswaithe, played Sir Andrew Aguecheek last summer in Twelfth Night and appeared this summer in Hamlet.

The set is designed by Jackie and Richard Penrod, with costumes by Rachel Sypniewski and props by Jesse Gaffney. The sound is designed by Josh Dumas and the lights by David Friedman. Bob Behr is the Stage Manager.