Witty Comedy ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ at The Strand Theatre

The Strand Theatre will present the landmark Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest as its spring play.

The production, running April 12-14, is a first for the Strand Theatre. Since reopening its doors in 2013, the Strand has been producing musicals every summer, with shows ranging from Grease to Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The Importance of Being Earnest, though, is the first non-musical to grace the Strand stage.

“When I began in this position this past August, one of my main goals was to produce more theater at the Strand,” said Strand Executive Director Sadie Crow. “I’m so excited to be offering something new to this community — especially with such an amazing, funny classic like Earnest.

The play follows Jack Worthing, a respectable estate owner who often journeys to London to reprimand his nefarious brother Ernest. The issue? Ernest is entirely made up; Jack merely uses this fictional brother as an excuse to go enjoy the pleasures of city life.

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To make things more complicated, Jack answers to the name “Ernest” while in the city, where he visits his beloved, Gwendolen Fairfax — who confesses she loves him partly because something about the name Ernest “inspires absolute confidence.” Meanwhile, at Jack’s home in the country, Jack’s ward Cecily is fascinated with the stories of Jack’s wicked brother Ernest. Upon learning this, Jack’s devious friend Algernon rushes to the country and introduces himself to Cecily as (who else?) Ernest, where they promptly fall in love. Chaos ensues as identities are revealed, personalities clash, and strange coincidences occur — all under the hawkish and judgmental eye of the imposing Lady Bracknell.

Directed by Butch Maxwell, the production stars Bryan Braunlich as Algernon Moncrieff and Michael Wylie as Jack Worthing. Sadie Crow plays the part of Gwendolen Fairfax, and Shanan Stout plays Cecily Cardew, while Judy Hennen embodies the formidable Lady Bracknell. Micah Underwood, Zachary Michael, Mack Kale Jr. and Brendan Sheehan round out the rest of the cast. Wheeling native Garrett Weigel is the scenic designer. Assistant director is Amy Dick. Stage manager is Abbigail Coffman.

The play runs at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14. Tickets are $12, and can be purchased at the door. To buy tickets in advance, visit strandtheatrewv.com or visit Frame and Fortunes on Jefferson Avenue in Moundsville. There will be a pay-what-you-will open dress rehearsal at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11.