Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Theater: The Importance of Being Earnest
by Catey Sullivan

This article shared 5182 times since Wed Jan 26, 2005
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Oscar Wilde

At: First Folio Shakespeare Festival

The Peabody Estate, 31st Street and Route 83, Oak Brook

Phone: ( 630 ) 986-8067

Runs through Feb. 12

Enter the parlor of the sprawling, ornately gabled Peabody Mansion and you step right into the world of Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff.

Downing cucumber sandwiches while plotting the pursuit of their ladyloves, Jack and Algy, the wry heroes of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, are ensconced in tradition in First Folio's production of the play.

Once the home of a coal baron and now owned by the DuPage County Forest Preserve, Oak Brook's 30-room Peabody estate is in the process of being renovated after years of being occupied only by—so it is said and so I have reason to believe—ghosts.

While staging summer Shakespeare on the grounds of the Peabody estate, First Folio Artistic Director Alison C. Vesely and her husband David Rice have been wrangling with Byzantine rules and regulations of Forest Preserve officials and raising funds for nearly a decade to establish an indoor theater in the parlor of the Tudor Revival-style mansion.

Earnest marks their debut production inside, and it's a corker.

From the antique volumes and sepia photographs adorning the towering wooden bookcases that surround the audience, to the stone cherubs carved into the massive fireplace upstage, the Peabody parlor is a near-perfect setting for Wilde's diabolically clever story of love, lies and social status. Take a seat and you get an Alice-in-Wonderland sense of falling through the rabbit hole right into Wilde's world 19th century England.

The Importance of Being Earnest centers on best chums Jack Worthing ( Christian Gray, overacting too much to be consistently believable ) and Algernon Moncrieff ( Kevin McKillip, a fine, mincing dandy whose smallest gestures can elicit a belly laugh ) .

The pair are enmeshed in the romantic pursuit of Cecily Cardew ( Leah Wagner, sparkling in the role of the ingénue ) and Gwendolyn Fairfax ( Melanie Keller, hilarious and imperious as a bossy know-it-all ) . Alas, both young women—for reasons that are a sly comment on the importance society puts on the silliest, most superficial qualities—are intent on marrying men named Ernest.

Further complicating matters is the heart and uproarious soul of this production, Tony Dobrowolski's Lady Bracknell, Gwendolyn's mother and the grandest gorgon of a woman to grace the stage since, well, I can't remember since when.

Dobrowolski isn't really doing drag here, although he is outfitted in the full-blown regalia of a well-bred Victorian female, from the phallic tower of peacock feathers looming from his velvet hat to the delicate watch chain that hangs like an anchor from his great battleship of a chest. Sure, Dobrowolski's dressed like a woman, but he's so utterly perfect for the part that gender becomes immaterial.

With one eyebrow that can arch a good quarter-inch higher than the other can ( excellent for depicting outraged incredulity ) and a voice that combines the authority of Moses and Mae West, this is a Lady Bracknell for the ages.

Also well worth watching closely is veteran musical theater actor Roger Mueller as a buttoned-up vicar desperately in love with Cecily's tutor Miss Prism ( Jill Shallabarger ) . Listen for the vicar's reference to pagans—it's spoken with the intonation of a man who delights in being secretly naughty. In another subtle, perfect moment, the vicar frantically thumbs through his Bible trying to look up the whys and wherefores of a potential sin like a dithering traffic cop trying to find the particulars on a moving violation.

Renee Mariotti's costumes are elaborate concoctions of velvet, lace and satin, utterly fitting to the upper-class denizens of the time. ( Particularly droll is Jack's mourning garb—right down to the black-edged silken hankie. )

Through it all, Wilde's scathing, brilliant attacks on societal nonsense, hypocrisy, double standards and social caste systems shines.

Vesely stays true to tradition in this Earnest, and the results are splendid.

This article shared 5182 times since Wed Jan 26, 2005
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

THEATER Nelson Rodriguez talks boxing, queerness and his very personal play 2023-12-03
- On Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Chicago Cultural Center, there will be a reading of New Personalidad—a play by actor, playwright and former Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree Nelson Rodriguez. The program, part of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bodyshop,' Beyonce, Ani DiFranco, Billie Jean King 2023-12-01
- The Breaking Glass Pictures film Bodyshop will be out on digital on Dec. 5, per a press release. The plot is described thusly: "The ghost of a young soldier sexually assaulted by his lieutenant says goodbye ...

Gay News

PERFORMANCE Teatro Zinzanni's Carisa Hendrix talks magic, queerness and Canada 2023-11-28
- One could call Teatro Zinzanni's newest production, "Love, Chaos, and Dinner," a meal and a show—but that would definitely shortchange this ongoing extravaganza. Taking place at the Loop's Cambria Hotel, there is not a bad seat ...

Gay News

'Sleeping with Beauty' serves up naughty holiday laughs 2023-11-27
- Seasonal British pantomimes have been securing the talents of such known performers as Henry Winkler, George Takei and Sir Ian McKellen for decades now. This inventive recounting of fairy tales, utilizing popular song, comedy and rowdy ...

Gay News

Jerry Mitchell bops into Boop! 2023-11-27
- Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell is bringing black-and-white Boop! The Betty Boop Musical into a world of color at the CIBC Theatre this winter. It's a pre-Broadway world premiere for the musical starring Jasmine Amy Rogers ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag to present 'Peep Show: The Handbag 2023 Benefit'on Dec. 10 2023-11-25
--From a press release - CHICAGO—Hell in a Handbag Productions will present its 2023 benefit: Peep Show—a peep through the curtains at the company's 2024 season—on Sunday, Dec. 10, 11:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m. at The Center on Halsted's The Hoover-Leppen ...

Gay News

Sarah Siddons to produce 'Noor Inayat Khan: The Forgotten Spy' 2023-11-22
- In a first for the 71-year-old Sarah Siddons Society, it will produce a one-night performance of Noor Inayat Khan: The Forgotten Spy—a new one-woman play written and performed by Almanya Narula, a 2016 Siddons Scholarship recipient ...

Gay News

YEPP 'rises' to occasion at fall fundraiser 2023-11-20
- Members and guests of Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP) gathered Nov. 17 at Chicago Theater Works, 1113 W. Belmont Ave., for the organization's fall fundraiser, Rise Up: Our Celebration of Resistance. The evening marked both the ...

Gay News

WORLD Latvia, nonbinary magistrate, Gay Games end, Israel soldiers 2023-11-17
- Latvia's parliament voted to allow same-sex couples to establish civil unions, Reuters reported. Said couples now have legal recognition—but fewer rights than married couples. The new legislation, slated to take effect in the middle of next ...

Gay News

THEATER Queer actor Chloe Baldwin talks 'POTUS,' identity and Shakespeare 2023-11-15
- In the Steppenwolf farce POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, queer actor Chloe Baldwin portrays the president's mistress Dusty, acting alongside a formidable group that includes Caroline Neff ...

Gay News

'Jersey Boys' stars reunite as Midtown Men on Dec. 2 in Glen Ellyn 2023-11-14
- The original stars of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys—Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer—will reunite as Midtown Men on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at McAninch Arts Center's Belushi Performance Hall ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions presents world premiere of The Golden Girls Save Xmas, A Lost Episodes Parody 2023-11-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO (November 10, 2023) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to kick off its 2023/24 season this November with The Golden Girls Save Xmas — A Lost Episodes Parody, featuring an all-new holiday tale ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Kaytranada, NFL star, Alexandra Billings, video game, George Michael 2023-11-10
- Out Montreal DJ/producer Kaytranada teased his latest single, "Out of Luck," with Mariah the Scientist, on Twitter, Complex noted. "THIS IS THE ANTHEM!" Kaytra wrote in his quote-tweet of the song playing at a release party. ...

Gay News

Charles Busch dishes on life as a storyteller 2023-11-09
- Performer/writer Charles Busch, who recently penned his autobiography, Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy, said that collecting his most precious and salient memories in a book felt "inevitable." "Storytelling is such an essential ...

Gay News

Black Excellence Awards winners named, inaugural Chicago Black Arts Hall of Fame inductees honored 2023-11-08
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Nov. 7, 2023)—The nonprofit Black Arts & Culture Alliance of Chicago is proud to announce the winners of its 23rd Annual Black Excellence Awards, honored last night in a festive celebration at Black Ensemble Theater. ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.