Lights! Camera! Epigram! Broadway's Earnest Gets Captured on Hi-Def Film March 11-12

By Kenneth Jones
11 Mar 2011

Brian Bedford
Brian Bedford
Photo by Joan Marcus

Lady Bracknell is ready for her close-up. Roundabout Theatre Company's extended Broadway production of The Importance of Being Earnest is being filmed in high-definition over three performances starting March 11 at the American Airlines Theatre.

Directed by and starring Brian Bedford, who plays Lady Bracknell in the Oscar Wilde comedy, the 2010-11 production earned enthusiastic reviews and was extended 17 weeks to July 3. Before a live audience on Friday night and both shows Saturday, the staging will be captured live with seven high-definition cameras. The edited result will be screened in movie theatres and performing arts centers across the U.S. and internationally on June 2 and varying dates through June 30.

The film's director will work live from a truck parked behind the theatre March 11-12. A Roundabout spokesperson told Playbill.com that some (but not many) seats "are blocked off for cameras and to avoid blocked sightlines." The audience is made up of RTC subscribers and single-ticket buyers.

Roundabout Theatre Company, L.A. Theatre Works and BY Experience are collaborating on this theatrical project for movie audiences in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, "to be able to experience the best of Broadway."



A full list of participating cinemas, exhibition dates and ticket prices will be announced soon. For more information on The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD, visit www.EarnestHD.com.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD is being filmed and distributed to movie theatres and performing arts centers by New York-based BY Experience.

Executive producers for cinema are Julie Borchard-Young and Robert Borchard-Young for BY Experience, Susan A. Loewenberg for L.A. Theatre Works, and Harold Wolpert for Roundabout Theatre Company. Lead funding for this project is provided by the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.

The original Broadway cast of this production is participating (there is some recasting scheduled for March 22). The Importance of Being Earnest, as Roundabout bills it, "is a glorious comedy of mistaken identity, which ridicules codes of propriety and etiquette. Dashing men-about-town John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff pursue fair ladies Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Matters are complicated by the imaginary characters invented by both men to cover their on-the-sly activities — not to mention the disapproval of Gwendolen's mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell. "

The Importance of Being Earnest cast also features Dana Ivey as Miss Prism, Paxton Whitehead as Rev. Canon Chasuble, Santino Fontana as Algernon Moncrieff, David Furr as John Worthing, Tim MacDonald as Merriman, Paul O'Brien as Lane, Charlotte Parry as Cecily Cardew and Sara Topham as Gwendolen Fairfax.

Octogenarian scenic and costume designer Heeley's painterly work will be preserved for future generations. Read Playbill.com's earlier Brief Encounter interview with him. The design team also includes Duane Schuler (lights) and Drew Levy (sound).

Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival presented an acclaimed production of The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, in 2009. Some elements of that staging (like the sets and costumes — and Bedford) appear in the Broadway run.

Tickets are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300, online at www.roundabouttheatre.org or at the American Airlines Box Office (227 W. 42nd Street). Ticket prices range from $72-$122.

To become a Roundabout subscriber visit www.roundabouttheatre.org or call Roundabout Ticket Services (212) 719-1300.