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The Importance of Being Earnest


    The esteemed Oscar Wilde’s most well-known comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, is rich with love, banter, friendship, and conflict.

    The story follows Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who both assume the false identity of a man named Earnest. While under the false name of Earnest, both men fall in love: Jack with the sophisticated, yet somewhat pretentious, Gwendolyn Fairfax; and Algernon with the spunky Cecily Cardew. As one may assume, two men under one name falling in love with two different women is a perfect catalyst for conflict. Not to mention the interference of the uptight Lady Bracknell, Gwendolyn’s mother, who seems to disapprove of any and all potential partners for her sweet daughter.

    This whirlwind of complex relationships and comedic commentary is a show you don’t want to miss!

    Cast List

    Jack Worthing – Harrison Cobitz

    Algernon Moncrieff – Jack McCullough

    Gwendolen Fairfax – Juliet Woolard

    Cecily Cardew – McKenzie Anninos

    Lady Bracknell – Tenzin Joh

    Miss Prism – Pearl McShane

    Rev. Canon Chasuble – Henry Yearley

    Merriman / Maid – Olivia Nuñez

    Lane / Butler – Bobby Siano

    Butler – Delaney Free

    Maid – Alessandra Simmons


    Thank you to the Cappies critics who came and reviewed HTC’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest! The following two reviews were published first and second on the Cappies Website.

    The truth is rarely pure and never simple, but one thing is for sure: Harriton Theater Company’s stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest is truly, truly fabulous.

    Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a farcical comedy play, with humor and messages that transcend time – especially considering that it was written in 1895. It was a success from its first opening night, and has been revived and rewritten several times on stage, screen, and in literature. The story follows an orphan who leads a double life: in the country, he’s Jack – but in the city, he’s “Ernest”.

    Lightheartedly criticizing the rigid and vain structure of Victorian society through dramatic physical comedy, genuine chemistry, and an endless supply of Bunbury, each member of the relatively small cast exemplified the timeless nature of a satirical comedy.

    Jack McCullough and Harrison Cobitz, in their respective roles Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing, complemented each other’s performances like cucumber sandwiches with tea. McCullough led the story, strutting about the stage and dazzling with his old-fashioned charm, while Cobitz grounded him as his well-to-do, down-to-earth (but secretly: desperate to fit into the confines of Victorian social norms) fellow bachelor.

    Each member of the supporting cast stood out like a pink rose on a croquet field. Juliet Woolard’s graceful portrayal of Gwendolen Fairfax demonstrated the essence of a high-class Victorian lady, while still showing spirit and warmth throughout. As her less-traditional “sister” – although they called each other many names before that – McKenzie Anninos flitted across the stage with a slightly childlike petulance, which was entirely excused by her very animated and dedicatedly playful nature. Starkly contrasting both of them, Tenzin Joh’s towering presence as Lady Bracknell contrasted the less-mature and lighter-hearted characters with intimidating coldness and amusing condescension.

    The timelessly beautiful set reinforced the creative decor of the era in which the show takes place. Certain technical aspects (occasionally missed sound cues, overly sensitive microphones) provided some challenges, but in the grand scheme of things did not take away from the engaging action taking place on stage.

    As Gwendolen Fairfax said, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing”. In the matter of Harriton Theater Company’s The Importance of Being Earnest, style and silliness, not seriousness, were the vital things.

    Gwen Goetz – Upper Merion Area High School

    It may be a terrible thing to find out suddenly that all your life you’ve been speaking nothing but the truth, but, Harriton High School’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a truthfully spectacular show.

    The Importance of Being Earnest was published in 1895 by Oscar Wilde. Originally performed in London at the St. James Theatre, the story has ventured into theaters across the globe in multiple languages. Following two men disguising themselves as Ernest, the play recounts them chasing love and escaping social obligations, all the while struggling with the ups and downs of marriage.

    Harriton’s cast brought comedy and flair to a performance topped off with accents and intricate character moments. Scenes of bliss perfectly melted the heart while making it burst from laughter with physical comedy and joyous punchlines. The contrasting sets before and after intermission helped the acts flow yet feel distinct. Additionally, the shift in demeanor and poise from the actors assisted in elevating the feeling of stakes throughout the play.

    Harrison Cobitz (Jack Worthing) brought frivolity to the daunting ideas of marriage and the identity of Ernest while allowing himself to take intentional pauses. The artistry of Jack McCullough (Algernon Moncrieff) was able to weave classic comedy into the greater story, perfectly interacting with the props, set, and other actors on stage to conjure a feeling of passionate excitement.

    The supporting cast was equally valuable to the show. Juliet Woolard as Gwendolen Fairfax displayed a wide range of emotions, as if a switch had been turned on and off with each new development of the story. Her comedic timing and chemistry with the other performers was incredible, as exhibited in her scenes with McKenzie Anninos, portraying Cecily Cardew. Anninos’ powerful and lighthearted spirit brought the show to life and drove the plot forward. Tenzin Joh (Lady Bracknell) shined as a commanding stage presence, having the ability to direct attention to the captivating sophistication of the character with every scene he took part in.

    The performance was enhanced by technical elements, which came across smoothly in the costuming, sound, and props departments. The costumes artfully detailed the outfits of the Victorian time period, giving glamor and distinction to each character to keep their identities strong and noticeable. The sound effects blended in seamlessly with the rest of the dialogue as if they were ripped straight from the surroundings of the 1800s. The props such as the real food, bell, and time-appropriate items set the tone for an immersive experience.

    The very essence of romance is uncertainty, however the essence of Harriton High School’s The Importance of Being Earnest was certainly marvelous.

    Dash Durning – Upper Merion Area High School

    Promotional Video