The updated staging (but unaltered text) helmed by Robert Richmond and Peter Meineck was a hit for the company in a national tour, and Aquila artistic director Meineck thought it might be fun for summer in the city.
Actors ranging from American TV star Larry Linville to Canadian stage icon William Hutt have played Bracknell, who interviews suitors for the young Gwendolyn in the famous comedy of manners.
The play will be set in 2003, and the men of the comedy will be in their late 30s rather than the usual 20s.
"We wanted to stress that Jack and Algy are older in years," Meineck told Playbill On-Line. "These are guys who have avoided getting married. What music would they be listening to? Cruel to Be Kind, Joe Jackson, Peter Gabriel..."
The Importance of Being Earnest will be the first professional staging in a new 200-seat flexible black box space at the Baruch Performing Arts Center at Lexington and 25th Street. The set design by Meineck and Richmond is a cricket field. Actor Webb appeared in Aquila's Comedy of Errors and Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Arena Stage's Of Mice and Men and this spring's An American Daughter, in Washington, D.C.
The company is made up of Aquila veterans including Richard Willis as Jack, Guy Oliver-Watts as Algernon, Cameron Blair as Gwendolyn, Lindsay Rae-Taylor as Cecily, Andrew Schwartz as Lane and Dr. Chausable, Renata Friedman as Miss Prism and Ryan Conarro as Merriman.
In the coming season, Aquila will tour The Man Who Would Be King and Othello, bringing the latter to New York City in 2004, the same year the company mounts The Agamemnon starring Olympia Dukakis as Clytemnestra.
Earnest tickets are $45 and go on sale June 2. For information, call (212) 239-6200 or visit aquilatheatre.com.
Baruch Performing Arts Center is at 150 E. 25th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Performances play Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 5 PM and 9 PM and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM. There will be no performance on Friday, July 4 with an added Wednesday matinee at 2 PM on July 2.