The Importance of Being Earnest Nov. 15-17

The CJ Performing Arts Department invites you to learn the vital importance of being earnest at this year’s fall play, running November 15-17 in the auditorium.

Written by Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest follows Jack Worthing, played by freshman Jacob Troutwine, as he attempts to woo the beautiful Gwendolen, played by senior Kaylee Piatt. Hilarity ensues in this Victorian era comedy as the plot twists and turns to reveal the takeaway echoed in the show’s title.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6th graders from Holy Angels and St. Peter were invited to take part in a performing arts workshop with CJ students.

“One of the themes of this play is triviality,” said Caitlin Bennett, director and producer. “Wilde pokes fun at how we focus too much on the little things in life and tries to show the value of being honest and true to one’s self.”

The play, considered by many to be Wilde’s greatest work, humorously examines some of the social norms and values in place in England during the late 19th century. Consequently, the script’s unique vernacular and unfamiliar references challenged cast members to overcome a cultural and generational learning curve on top of memorizing lines and parts, said Bennett.

“The neat thing about the kids we have is that we are able to push them and challenge them to go beyond what even they thought was possible,” she said.

"Mrs. Bennett has done a great job getting everything together and pushing us," said Warren Reynolds, understudy for the lead role. The senior is participating in his first performing arts theater production on the CJ stage.

"A football injury last year freed up my fall, and I decided to add theater and acting classes to my schedule after some encouragement from Mrs. Bennett, so by the time the fall play came around I decided to try something new," he said.

"It was a great choice and I've made a lot of great friends. I've also received a lot of support from fellow cast members who've been in plays year after year."

The Importance of Being Earnest comprises a cast of 14, including six understudy parts, plus a crew of 20 students who designed the set. And when the curtain drops, the production will be entirely student driven.

“There is no adult running anything during the show to make it happen,” Bennett said. Crew members run sound and light during all performances.

Instrumental in helping to perfect the final product on stage were parents and adults who gave their support during the 10 weeks leading up to opening night. A special thanks goes out to CJ parent Mark Phillips who provided students with dialect training for honing their British accents. Thanks also to Derek Dunavent who serves as assistant director, Bryan Miller who serves as technical director, and Charis Weible who serves as costume designer.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, and theatergoers will have four opportunities to catch the show this weekend:

  • Friday, Nov. 15  --  7:30 p.m. (Opening Night)
  • Saturday, Nov. 16 --  2 p.m. (understudy cast) and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 17  --  2 p.m.

"This is a play with a different feel," Reynolds said. "I encourage audiences to come out and experience something different."