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EARNEST In Pasadena Is A Smashing Success! Show To Reprise In Late May

 

Ryan Klamen as John 'Jack' Worthing and Julie Burlington as Cecily Cardew

This past weekend, The 413 Project's dinner theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest was scheduled to close on March 2nd. But thanks to the production's great success, the cast of 'Earnest' will be returning to the Madeline Garden Restaurant and Bistro for a limited engagement from May 31st to June 10th, 2018.

The 413 Project's production brings theatrical simplicity to an atmosphere elegance. 'Earnest' is both a feast for the eyes and the stomach with many beautiful Victorian costumes, immersive atmosphere, and a tasty English high tea meal.

The show is performed within the historical walls of a 1920's French Quarter style mansion which has been converted into a full-service restaurant and event venue. The designers and director, Annabelle Borke, have carefully interwoven the minimalism of a non-traditional stage into the elegance of a very elaborate venue. The story is brought to life throughout every aspect of the experience; almost as if you are one of Oscar Wilde's guests and you have come to have tea with characters themselves.

To escape the constraints of polite Victorian society, John 'Jack' Worthing (Ryan Klamen) and his friend Algernon Moncrieff (Jacob Betts) have both invented a guise to escape from the mundane nature of their restrained existence, but love is about to force them to dismantle their alternative realities. John Worthing, has fallen in love with Gwendolen Fairfax (Erin Manker), but when her mother Lady Bracknell (Tamarah Ashton) discovers the truth of his origin, found in a handbag at Victoria Station, she forbids the match. Algernon soon finds out that John has secret ward named Cecily Cardew (Julie Burlington), who lives at Jack's country house. Things take a complicated and hilarious turn when Algernon, who always knew Jack as Earnest, discovers the truth of his secret life and concocts his own plan to meet Cecily and to introduce himself as Jack's illusive brother, Earnest. Gwendolyn and Cecily meet and mistakenly believe that they both are in love with Mr. Earnest Worthing, only to find out that neither gentleman is actually named Earnest.

Jacob Betts as Algernon Moncreiff

Ryan Klamen in the role of Jack, gives the audience endless laughs through his comedic and well played performance. Although it is easy to focus on the humor of the story (after all, this is a comedy), Klamen displayed a powerful range of emotion for his character, and it can't be easy to go through your life knowing that you had been found in a handbag. The chemistry between Klamen and fellow actor, Jacob Betts, who plays Algernon Moncrieff, carries the first act in both humor and dialogue. Betts performance is nothing short of extraordinary, his moments of well-crafted comic timing play perfectly to Wilde's wordy humor.

Erin Manker as Gwendolyn Fairfax and Julie Burlington as Cecily Cardew

 

Actress Erin Manker is well casted as Gwendolen Fairfax to play the breathtaking leading lady. Manker develops her character into a much more complex and clever Gwendolyn than I have seen in other productions, her presence and poise on stage is well matched with Julie Burlington as Cecily Cardew. Burlington brings the giddy and girlish charm of Ms. Cardew to life as she lights of the stage with her entertaining, wide range of facial expressions.

Tamarah Ashton as Lady Bracknell

Tamarah Ashton as Lady Bracknell is truly one of the highlights of the show. Lately, it has been a trend to cast a male in the role of Lady Bracknell, but Ashton was no doubt an excellent case for more traditional casting. Bracknell is a very challenging role just by virtue of the many lines and wonderfully long monologues that Wilde wrote for the character. Yet, Ashton handles them with clever brilliance and brings vivacious energy to a somewhat long 2nd act.

Angela Beyer as Miss Prism and Eric Ryan as Dr. Chasuble

Miss Prism, played by Angela Beyer, is the perfect embodiment of the strict, over-zealous governess. Her amazing vocal and stage presence commanded the attention of the audience through her comical yet prudish demeanor. Beyer plays well with the holy yet peculiar Dr. Chasuble, played by Eric Ryan. Ryan brings subtle moments of brilliance to his sunny and bright eyed character. And actor James Borke as Merriman the butler proves that there is no small role, only small actors with his untimely yet hilarious entries and reentries onto the stage.

James Borke as Merriman the butler

Even at 123 years old, this play does not fail to entertain. The Importance of Being Earnest is arguably Oscar Wilde's most famous work, and this comedy of manners is sure to not disappoint. Just grab a cucumber sandwich, pour some tea (there will be tea!) and enjoy Victorian London.

Show will remount May 31-June 10, 2018

All performances will be performed at the Madeline Garden, located in downtown Pasadena. General Admission is $78.00. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit: www.the413project.org or call (619) 786-7248.

*Photo credit to Alex Clarke Photo

 


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