Broadway's Tony-Winning Importance of Being Earnest Ends June 26
By Kenneth Jones
It's time to pack designer Desmond Heeley's 2011 Tony Award-winning Victorian costumes into a trunk. The acclaimed Broadway revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, starring and directed by Brian Bedford, ends its run June 26 at Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre.
The production, which has its roots in a Bedford-directed 2009 staging at Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival, was also nominated for 2011 Tonys in the categories of Best Revival and Best Actor in a Play (for Bedford, who wears silk as Lady Bracknell). Read Playbill.com's Brief Encounter interview with set and costume designer Heeley. A 17-week extension was previously announced to July 3, but due to scheduling conflicts for cast members David Furr and Charlotte Parry, a week was lopped off. It's been a good run for the classic: It was first scheduled to play to March 6.
On March 22, the production welcomed Brian Murray, Jayne Houdyshell and Jessie Austrian, replacing Paxton Whitehead, Dana Ivey and Sara Topham, respectively, in the roles of Rev. Chasuble, Miss Prism and Gwendolen Fairfax. The rest of the original cast — Santino Fontana as Algernon, David Furr as John, Tim MacDonald as Merriman, Paul O'Brien as Lane and Charlotte Parry as Cecily, plus the inimitable Brian Bedford as Lady Backnell — continued.
Ivey, Whitehead and Topham played their final performance on March 20; their work in the comedy of manners was documented in a high-def film of the revival that is now appearing in North American movie theatres.
Following the Broadway run, Bedford rejoins the acting company of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, where he will play Oronte in The Misanthrope, sharing the stage with Sara Topham as Celemine. Performances play July 31-Oct. 29 at the Festival Theatre. David Grindley directs.
For tickets and information about Roundabout productions, call (212) 719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org or at the American Airlines Box Office at 227 West 42nd Street.
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