There’s more than one show taking the stage this weekend, and we have more interviews to share from both shows!
In St. Albans you can catch a unique version of Oscar Wilde’s famous 19th century comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest. The production reverses the genders of the cast, with men playing women’s role, and women playing the part of men.
For our first interview, let’s hear from the beautiful and talented Rachel Sanford:
Q: For those who haven't seen it, tell us about The Importance of Being Earnest.
Rachel: It’s a great comedy of errors. Jack lives in the English countryside circa 1890, and likes to pretend to have a younger brother called Ernest who constantly needs rescuing from his extravagant lifestyle, allowing Jack to go to London with little questions or interference. While away, he tells all his friends in London that he is in fact Ernest, and this becomes harder to keep up as he tried to win the affections of Miss Gwendolyn Fairfax. Therefore, the rest of the play is a delightful farce as the characters maneuver through Jack's web of lies (and a few of their own).
Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?
Rachel: I have always loved Oscar Wilde. He is a brilliant satirist and social commentator. On top of that, when I heard that the show would have reverse casting, I knew I had to be a part of this show. Unconventional and eclectic things like that were one of the main reasons I wanted to continue theatre outside of high school, and I'm so thankful to have this opportunity.
Q: Tell us about the character you play.
Rachel: I play Algernon, Jack's cynical best friend. He is the first in the show to hear about Jack's double life, and he makes Jack's life all the more difficult because of it. He is very playful and carefree, living mostly for pleasure. However, he gets his foot caught in the door when he meets the beautiful and clever Cecily.
Q: What's your background in theatre?
Rachel: I did plays in high school in Pikeville, Kentucky. After graduation, I spent a summer studying theatre in New York, but came back to pursue other subjects. A few years ago, I moved into the Huntington area and got involved in community theatre, including roles with Paramount Players, ARTS, Murder and Merriment, and Astral Theatre Collective.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene?
Rachel: There is a scene between Cecily and Gwendolyn when they realize that they are both engaged to a Mr. Ernest Worthing, and they practically kill each other with kindness. The writing is so clever, and Eric and Clay's performances are hysterical.
Q: Tell us about the cast.
Rachel: This is a reverse gender cast, so all the male parts are played by women and all the female parts are played by men. It really works in the play's favor, because part of Wilde's humor is based on gender roles. Also, deception and identity are a major themes of the play, and the reverse casting highlights that.
Q: Why would you recommend this show?
Rachel: It's a brilliantly written play with a modern twist that allows for a fun time and a little conversation. (Plus, it's two hours away from politics!) We are very excited for everyone to see our hard work!
Q: Thanks, Rachel!
The Importance of Being Earnest is being presented by the Alban Arts Center at 65 Olde Main Street in St. Albans on Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens. Group rates are available. Visit www.albanartscenter.com or call 304-721-8896.