Apr 122012
Authors: Emily Kribs

At the dress rehearsal for “The Importance of Being Earnest” Tuesday night, theatre professor and director Eric Prince could be heard discussing everything from lighting to the logistics of cake.

“Backstage, I want you all using (British) accents,” he told the cast. “I’m going to give you all an English tongue twister to practice, and I want you all to sing ‘Happy Birthday.’”

“The Importance of Being Earnest” will play at the University Theatre at the University Center for the Arts tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $8 for students and $9 for youth under 17.

Everyone expects the cast to be in character, but the crew will be, too.

“We have au vista scene changes, which means we don’t have a curtain, and the set is changed in front of the audience, so our crew is dressed in costume,” said Cory Seymour, the producing technical director. “Our scene shifts are interesting to watch.”

The crew doesn’t mind this departure from the norm.

On the contrary, sound board operator and theatre major Ashley Longhill said, “My favorite part is wearing costumes.”

But a costume doesn’t make a character.

History and theatre major Seth Klusmire, who plays Algernon Moncrieff, said, “It’s been a challenge keeping up a Victorian physique, a Victorian presentation. We need to sit up straight, stand up straight, with our shoulders back.”

“Basically, what we were told was to always look like we’re posing. Even if we’re just sitting or don’t have anything in our hands, we need to hold ourselves like it’s a pose.”

“It’s really improved my posture,” he added.

Oscar Wilde’s tale of two men whose double lives get them into trouble while trying to woo the women they love is a well-known one, but that doesn’t mean the characters can only be interpreted one way.

“I was originally going to play (Algernon) as very gay, very flamboyant,” said Klusmire, “But we have a man in drag (Tim Garrity, theatre major) playing Lady Bracknell, so I thought that would be a bit much.”

Garrity said, “In the end, I want Lady Bracknell to be the most pompous snob.”

According to Klusmire, “(The best part) is the comedy. It’s very funny. Obviously we had to work hard at getting into character and putting this play together, but we don’t even have to try to make it funny because it’s so well-written.”

Collegian writer Emily Kribs can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

What: “The Importance of Being Earnest”
Where: The University Theatre at the University Center for the Arts
When: Tonight, Saturday, April 14, 19, 20, 21 and 22, starting at 7:30 p.m. each night
Cost: $18 for adults, $8 for students and $9 for youth under 17

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