Joe Dowling Goes Wilde With Earnest To Open MN's Guthrie Season, July 15

News   Joe Dowling Goes Wilde With Earnest To Open MN's Guthrie Season, July 15 Plays about Oscar Wilde may be proliferating on the New York stage, but plays by Oscar Wilde are still the reason he hasn't been forgotten more than a hundred years after his masterworks made the scene.

Plays about Oscar Wilde may be proliferating on the New York stage, but plays by Oscar Wilde are still the reason he hasn't been forgotten more than a hundred years after his masterworks made the scene.

One of Wilde's most-produced comedies, The Importance of Being Earnest officially opens the season at MN's Guthrie Theatre, July 15. Previews began July 5.

Artistic director Joe Dowling directs this mounting of Earnest, which features Rainn Wilson as Algernon; Charles Janasz as John Worthing; Julie Briskman Hall as Gwendolen, Amanda Detmer as Cecily and Guthrie veteran Barbara Bryne as Lady Bracknell. Also in the cast are Catherine Eaton, Nathaniel Fuller, Richard S. Iglewski, Sally Wingert, Richard Walters and David Manis. Designing the show are Frank Hallinan Flood (set), Mathew J. LeFebvre (costumes), Christopher Akerlind (lighting) and Victor Zupanc (sound).

Running through Aug. 30, Earnest plays in repertory with A Month in the Country, opening July 17.

Kathryn Meisle, featured in recent Broadway productions of Boucicault's London Assurance and Anouilh's The Rehearsal, will star in Mark Brokaw's staging of Turgenev's Country. Meisle, whose other credits included the Lincoln Center production of David Hare's Racing Demon, will play Natalia Petrovna, a restless wife who becomes helplessly infatuated with her son's young tutor. The production is helmed by Mark Brokaw, who most recently staged Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul at New York's Vineyard Theatre. After a string of successes with contemporary plays -- including Paula Vogel's Pulitzer winning How I Learned to Drive, Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown and Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth -- the Turgenev represents a change of pace for the hot director.

Joining Meisle in the cast are Jeremy Fonicello as Aleksei, the tutor; Ken Marks as Mikhail, Natalia's neglected lover; and Maria Thayer as Viera, Natalia's young ward. Charles Janasz and David Manis play other roles. The production began performances July 8 and plays through Aug. 27.

The rest of Guthrie season is as follows:

Oct. 2-Nov. 8: The Venetian Twins. In Kevin Kling's adaptation of this Carlo Goldoni romp, identical twins (one a country bumpkin, another a city slicker) look for a wife in modern-day Minnesota. The Royal Shakespeare Company's Michael Bogdanov directs this updated 1748 play.

Nov. 20-Dec. 27: A Christmas Carol. Barbara Fields adapts Charles Dickens' holiday fable, which for the second year will feature the voice of Sir John Gielgud as narrator. Sari Ketter directs.

According to an Associated Press report, an official from the Minneapolis theatre flew to London last year to tape Gielgud's recitation. "His voice will marry beautifully with those of the actors on stage and is a perfect fit with the language of Charles Dickens," said artistic director Dowling. Previous credits for the 93-year-old Gielgud include the National Theatre's 1947 Medea and Crime And Punishment, both of which played on Broadway. He debuted in 1921 at London's Old Vic and on Broadway in 1928's The Patriot. He also won an Oscar for Arthur.

Spokesperson Kemp Powers told Playbill On-Line, "We've done Christmas Carol for over 20 years. For a number of years, we had the narrator be someone portraying Dickens at the dinner table with his family. Last season we had various company members narrate throughout the story."

Jan. 15-Feb. 14, 1999: The Magic Fire. Lillian Garrett-Groag's autobiographical piece tells of her coming of age in Peron-era Argentina. Lippy Appel directs the drama (which world premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1997) for the Guthrie.

Feb. 26-Apr. 4, 1999: Julius Caesar. Artistic director Dowling will update Shakespeare's look at dirty politics in ancient Rome to the 20th Century.

Apr. 23-May 23, 1999: Summer and Smoke. In Tennessee Williams' drama of repression and longing, tightly-wrapped Alma falls in love with a dissolute doctor but won't admit it until too late.

For tickets ($15.50-$37.50) and subscription information ($48-$204) to Guthrie shows call (612) 377-2224.

-- By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz

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