Arizona Theatre Brings Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” to Tucson

Arizona Theatre Company’s modern rendition of Oscar Wilde’s most popular play “The Importance of Being Earnest” succeeded in pleasing the masses during its opening weekend.

Located in the center of downtown Tucson at The Temple of Music and Art at 330 S. Scott Avenue, this show kick-started the 2013/2014 season of performances. 

Directed by Stephen Wrentmore this whimsical play delighted the crowd with suspense, joy and laughter throughout their Saturday evening performance. Along with being elegantly directed, Yoon Bae, the scenic and costume designer, enchanted the audience with extravagant and flamboyant outfits that suited each individual character perfectly.

Portioned into three separate acts the plot is set in both London and Hertfordshire, England following the deceptive yet interesting lifestyle of Jack Worthing played by actor Loren Dunn. The opening act began with the introduction of the quirky butler Lane played by Mike Lawler and his interaction with Algernon Moncrieff; Jack’s cousin played by Matt Leisy.

With such an essence of energy coming from the lively character of Algernon and his sarcastic personality towards Lane, it was hard not to immediately become mesmerized by this play. It was especially amusing to watch the introduction of the main character Jack towards the middle of act one, as he brought so much creative drama into the act.  

The collaboration between the characters of Algernon and Jack was particularly comical as their conversations were laced with dry humor about food, women, society and the superficial elements of life. It was in their dialogue that the untruthful nature of Jack and his false name Earnest was brought to the attention of Algernon, unraveling even more of the personality of the deceitful yet satirical Jack.

By the end of act one the audience was also introduced to Lady Bracknell played by actress Allyce Beasley who was the uptight and insincere aunt of Algernon. Throughout the night Lady Bracknell seemed to become a certain crowd favorite having impeccable punch lines that engulfed the entire audience in hilarity. Before wrapping up act one and releasing audiences into intermission, spectators were shown the over the top love interest of Jack in the character of Gwendolen Fairfax played by Anneliese Van Der Pol.

After the terse break, the actors were back in action performing and the audience was introduced to Cecily Cardew played by actress Heather Marie Cox and Miss Prism both of whom were very eccentric in their own ways. These two women shined in their acting as they complemented well with the rest of the colorful cast that was performing during the night. 

In act two and three it was evident that there were vast amounts of secrets being kept by many of the characters in the play. Along with a variety of depth offered in this play’s script, the setting of all three of the acts was extravagant as the layout for the stage was laced with exquisite lighting and modern décor.

Overall there were very few characteristics to negatively critique about this performance as the play was consistently entertaining from start to finish. “The Importance of Being Earnest” is definitely a must see for those interested in witnessing a modern interpretation of a classical play. 

As well as premiering a quality rendition of Oscar Wilde’s play, Arizona Theatre Company is celebrating its 47th anniversary of offering entertainment for the Tucson community. 

Running now through Oct. 5, ticket prices for this play range from $36 to $77. For more information contact the Temple of Music and Art box office at 622-2823 or online at

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