“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing,” wrote Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, and Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre’s new production, running now for seven weekends, is promising plenty of style and deliciously twisted insincerity. Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the most enduring and endearing of English comedies, is directed by Westmont adjunct professor and costume expert Miller James. This collaboration of James and Circle Bar B producers Susie and David Couch has been on the planning board for a couple of years. “Everyone and their brother does Earnest, so you have to find the time window when everyone and their brother are not doing it,” said Susie, speaking by phone last week. A farce involving mistaken identities and love triangles, Earnest is widely regarded as a masterpiece of theatrical form and showcase for ingenious wit. And even if you own your favorite British or American film version, there are good reasons to experience this live staging. First of all, the cast features two recent Indy Award–winning actors: Jenna Scanlon as Lady Bracknell and Katherine Bottoms as Miss Cecily Cardew. Second, with James’s direction comes the great perk of costume resourcefulness, a real plus with this late-19th-century period piece. “The costumes are magnificent,” said Susie. What the character Algy says seems apropos to the whole show: “If I am occasionally a little overdressed, I make up for it by being always immensely overeducated.”
The cast also includes Richard Lonsbury as John “Jack” Worthing, Joshua Danyel as Algernon “Algy” Moncrieff, PCPA alum Jennifer Marco as Gwendolen Fairfax, and Allan Stewart-Oaten with dual-roles as Merriman and Lane. Finally, Circle Bar B’s own producers will relish the roles of Miss Prism and The Rev. Canon Chasuble — long on both actors’ bucket lists, Susie assured me. In fact, four of these actors are especially primed for this community of comedy, having just worked together on a very successful staging of the Noël Coward’s Present Laughter at SBCC.
The Importance of Being Earnest will be at Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre (1800 Refugio Rd.) through Sunday, July 14. For tickets and showtimes, call (805) 967-1962 or visit circlebarbtheatre.com.