Sophie Thompson, Jeremy Swift and Sinead Matthews to Star in Classic Spring's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Sophie Thompson, Jeremy Swift and Sinead Matthews to Star in Classic Spring's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Classic Spring announces Olivier-Award winner Sophie Thompson as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, from 20 July at the Vaudeville theatre. Directed by Michael Fentiman, the production also stars Jeremy Swift in the role of Reverend Chasuble and Sinéad Matthews as Gwendolyn Fairfax.

The Importance of Being Earnest is the last in a cycle of productions celebrating the great iconoclast, which has included all four of Wilde's major social comedies, a solo performance of De Profundis by Simon Callow, now transferring to Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a reworking of Wilde's fairy tales for children presented by Tall Stories, and a musical version of The Selfish Giant, presented in Northampton and London. These productions have been seen by over 120,000 people in the Vaudeville, and 80,000 more on cinema screens.

Five-time Olivier Award nominee, Sophie Thompson, won the Olivier Award for Best Actress for Into the Woods (1999). Most recently on stage in Guys and Dolls (Chichester), she is well-known for her film roles, including: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Emma, Gosford Park and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1. Sophie has achieved the unique distinction of achieving five Olivier nominations, taking starring roles in both EastEnders (BBC) and Coronation Street (ITV), and triumphing as the winner of Celebrity Masterchef (BBC One).

Jeremy Swift is best-known for his role in Downton Abbey (ITV), playing the butler, Septimus Spratt. His screen credits also include The Durrells (ITV), Gosford Park, Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, and the Wachowski Brothers' Jupiter Rising. He will soon be appearing in the much-anticipated film Mary Poppins Returns. His theatre credits include The Railway Children (King's Cross Theatre), Abigail's Party (West End) and What the Butler Saw (National Theatre).

Sinéad Matthews is currently at the National Theatre in Absolute Hell. Her recent theatre credits include Ivan van Hove's Hedda Gabler, Blurred Lines (National Theatre), Pests (Royal Exchange, Royal Court, UK Tour) and The Changeling (Young Vic). Her film credits include Pride and Prejudice, Happy-Go-Lucky and Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.

Michael Fentiman recently directed the 5-star revival of Joe Orton's Loot (Park Theatre/Watermill Theatre), restoring the play's original censored cuts for the first time. His credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Ahasverus (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The War Has Not Started Yet (Drum Theatre, Plymouth). His screen credits include Shakespeare Unlocked (BBC/Cultural Olympiad).

Michael is joined by award-winning designer Madeleine Girling and award-winning costume designer Gabriella Slade; the creative team have previously collaborated on the critically-acclaimed production of Loot (Park Theatre). Madeleine Girling won the Linbury Prize for Stage Design in 2013 and the Lord Williams Memorial Prize for Design in 2012. Her credits include Go Between (Young Vic), Ant and the Cicada (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Little Light (Orange Tree). Gabriella Slade was costume designer for Olivier Award-winning musical In the Heights (2016, UK). Her recent credits include Bodies (Royal Court), The Last Five Years (St James' Theatre) and Showstopper (Apollo Theatre).

Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Classic Spring, said: "It has been an enormous pleasure over the last nine months to showcase Oscar Wilde's dazzling ability to allow contraries free play in the world of his drama, and to highlight his take-down of puritanism and his love of mercy. We have brought thousands of people new to Wilde, and many new to the West End, into the glittering and liberating confusions of his world. It has also been a massive pleasure to work with so many great actors - Eve Best, Anne Reid, William Gaunt, Jennifer Saunders, Samantha Spiro, Joseph Marcell and the incomparable Foxes - in a pure celebration of technique. It is with delight and excitement that we look forward to this continuing celebration of writer and actors with The Importance of Being Earnest."

Over 20,000 tickets under £20 have been made available across the season, encouraging younger audiences and making the season as accessible as possible. The season has been seen by 120,000 people so far, starting with Dominic's production of A Woman of No Importance, starring Eve Best and Anne Reid, which ran successfully through the end of last year. Lady Windermere's Fan, starring Kevin Bishop, Samantha Spiro and Jennifer Saunders and directed by Kathy Burke, was followed by a critically-acclaimed production of An Ideal Husband, starring Freddie and Edward Fox. In between the main productions interludes and Wilde talks have included a lecture from the inimitable Stephen Fry, and a critically-acclaimed performance of De Profundis by Simon Callow (adapted by Frank McGuinness), which is set to return later this year.

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