The Importance of Being Earnest to Open in Repertory with Measure for Measure at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           June 27, 2013

Contact: Lisa Higgins,              610.282.9455, ext.4

Center Valley, PA – Oscar Wilde’s scintillating wit and romantic archetypes fill one of the most celebrated comedies of all time.  The Importance of Being Earnest opens on the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s main stage Friday, July 12, with previews July 10 and 11, and runs through August 4. The Importance of Being Earnest will play in repertory with Measure for Measure.

The Importance of Being Earnest offers a tale of two well-to-do gentlemen, John Worthing played by Blake Ellis and Algernon Moncrieff played by Zack Robidas, as they pursue countryside adventures, love, and identities – both real and invented. Gwendolen Fairfax captures John’s heart and is performed by Alexie Gilmore, whose feature film credits include starring opposite Robin Williams in World’s Greatest Dad and Matthew McConaughey in Surfer Dude. Cecily Cardew, played by Erin Partin, catches Algernon’s eye.

Algernon and John’s falsified identities prevail until the young gents cross paths with the indomitable Lady Bracknell, Wilde’s symbol of Victorian ethics run amok. Director and PSF veteran Jim Helsinger plays Lady Bracknell, in the tradition of great male comedic actors in the role.

The cast includes Wayne S. Turney as Rev. Canon Chasuble, and Brad DePlanche as John Worthing’s butler, Merriman. Playing Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess is Suzanne O’Donnell, while Greg Wood takes on the role of Lane, Algernon’s butler.

Lighting is designed by two-time Barrymore award winner Thom Weaver. Scenic design is by six-time Emmy winner Bob PhillipsLisa Zinni designed the costumes, and sound design us created by Matthew Given, PSF’s resident designer. Jane Ridley is the accent coach. Stacy Renee Norwood serves as stage manager, with Alison Hassman as assistant stage manager. Matt Pfeiffer serves as associate director.

The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Jim Helsinger

Previews: July 10 and July 11

Opens: Friday, July 12

Closes: Sunday, August 4

Performances: Tuesday, July 16 & 30 at 7pm; Wednesday, July 10, 17 & 24 at 8pm; Thursday, July 11 & August 1 at 8pm; Friday, July 12 & 26 at 8 pm; Saturday, July 27 at 2pm & August 3 at 8 pm; Sunday, July 21 & 28 at 2pm & August 4 at 7:30pm.  

Tickets: $25-55. Discounts for students, seniors, subscribers and groups.

Meet the actors: Q&A after all Thursday performances, except previews.

Box Office: 610.282.WILL [9455] Order online at:

The Festival’s 22nd season also features Measure for Measure (July 18 – August 4) in rep with The Importance of Being EarnestHenry VIII (July 24 – August 4), and the children’s productions Beauty and the Beast (through August 3) and Shakespeare for Kids (July 24 – August 3).

The production sponsor for The Importance of Being Earnest is Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects. Season sponsors are Dr. and Mrs. Frank J. Szarko, and associate season sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit, theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations. PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.

BRAD DEPLANCHE, Merriman; Pompey, Measure. PSF roles: Trinculo – The Tempest, Pseudolus–ForumIrma Vep, and Passepartout–80 Days. Recent: Gary in I Hate Hamlet (Arts Center Coastal Carolina), Manny in Aladdin (People’s Light and Theatre Company) and Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Orlando Shakespeare Theater). NYC: China; The Whole Enchilada (NY Fringe), Gameshow! (Dodger Theatricals), and Cloud Nine (Classic Stage Company). Regional Theatre: Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, South Coast Repertory, Syracuse Stage, Utah Shakespearean Festival. TV: Psychic Detectives (Tru TV).

BLAKE ELLIS, John Worthing; Angelo, Measure. Previous: The Shakespeare Theatre Co. (Othello, Comedy of Errors, The Persians, Love’s Labour’s Lost), The Royal Shakespeare Co. (Love’s Labour’s Lost), California Shakespeare Theatre (Richard III, King of Shadows), Berkeley Repertory Theatre (The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later), San Jose Repertory Theatre (The Dresser, As You Like It) and A Noise Within (The Beaux’ Stratagem).

ALEXIE GILMORE, Gwendolyn; Marianna, Measure. TV: New Amsterdam, directed by Lasse Hallestrom (Cider House Rules), Rescue Me, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Nurse Jackie, a cross over role on Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy, House M.D., and many more. Film: Find Love by Erica Dunton, starred opposite Robin Williams in Bobcat Goldthwait’s, World’s Greatest Dad (premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2009), God Bless America, and Willow Creek (Boston Independent Film Festival 2013) which she starred in and produced as well. She has also starred as the romantic lead opposite Matthew McConaughey  in Surfer Dude, Mercy with Scott Caan (premiered at Cinevegas 2009), and Fairhaven with Chris Messina (premiered Tribeca Film Festival 2012). Other film credits include Definitely, Maybe, The Devil Wears Prada and The Babsitters. Due out later this year, Gilmore can be seen in the new Jason Reitman film, Labor Day, with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

MATTHEW GIVEN, Resident Sound Designer and Production Manager. He has designed 40+ productions for PSF including: The Winter’s TaleCat on a Hot Tin Roof, King LearDraculaHamlet (2011), Romeo & Juliet (2010), Sleeping Beauty and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Regional: The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Theatre Exile, the Centenary Stage Company, and Arcadia University.

ALISON HASSMAN, Assistant Stage Manager. Credits: Trinity Repertory Company, McCarter Theater, West Virginia Public Theater, Plays and Players, The Active Theater.

JIM HELSINGER, Director and Lady Bracknell. PSF directing: Tempest (2012), The Merry Wives of Windsor (2010), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009), Irma Vep, Sleuth, The Imaginary Invalid, Charley’s Aunt, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). Other directing credits: Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Florida Studio Theatre, Actor’s Playhouse, Florida Repertory Theatre, Cape May Stage, New York Fringe Festival and Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF (where he serves as Artistic Director). PSF acting: Master Ford, Don Armado, Parolles, Bassanio, Malvolio (2x), Arnlophe, Dogberry and Bottom. Off-Broadway: The Death and Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Contrast; regionally in the title roles of Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Dracula, and Henry V; and in TV/Film in From the Earth to the Moon, Noah Knows Best, Mortal Kombat and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. As a playwright, his adaptation of Dracular the Journal of Jonathan Harker was also produced by PSF. He is a past president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, and a member of National Theatre Conference, and the National New Play Network.

STACY RENEE NORWOOD, Stage Manager. Stage managed multiple seasons at the Depot Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and PSF; thriving with each opportunity to stage manage two shows in rep.

SUSANNE ODONNELL, Miss Prism; Mistress Overdone, Measure. PSF: Juliet (in the inaugural season), Hermia, Viola, Lady Macduff, Phoebe, Nerissa, Agnes in School for Wives and most recently Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Regional: The Arden Theatre (Dancing at Lughnasa, Romeo and Juliet), The Folger Theatre (Arcadia, The Comedy of Errors) and 1812 Productions (Boston Marriage). Recent Orlando Shakespeare Theatre credits: Emilia in Othello, Mrs. Henry Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Annette in God of Carnage. 

ERIN PARTIN, Cecily Cardew; Isabella, Measure. PSF: Perdita in The Winter’s Tale in 2007. Others: Shakespeare Theatre Company DC, Shakespeare Theater of NJ, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and The Resident Ensemble Players DE. Most recently was Ophelia in Hamlet. Other favorites include Clarice in The Liar, Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Raina in Arms and the Man, Agnes in School for Wives, and Maria in Twelfth Night.

MATT PFEIFFER, Associate Director; Director, 39 Steps. PSF: Directing The Complete Works Abridged and Dracula, and appearing in over 15 productions. Serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Theatre Exile in Philadelphia. Other directing: Arden Theatre, Two River, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Walnut St. Theatre, and Delaware Theatre Co. A seven-time Barrymore nominee and recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award.

BOB PHILLIPS, Scenic Designer. Designed 40+ shows for PSF over the past 19 years: favorites include The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Around the World in 80 Days, School for Wives and Sleuth. Bob is Resident Designer for Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and Centenary Stage Company. He designs often for Florida Studio Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Alpine Theatre Project, 1812 Company and the Arden Theatre. TV designs include Another World, Search for Tomorrow, Encyclopedia, and Sesame Street where he is currently Production Designer. Bob has received the Villager, Madison, Outer Critics Circle and Lillie Stoates awards for his stage designs, and six Emmys for his television work.

JANE RIDLEY, Accent Coach. A professional actress, teacher, fight choreographer and accent coach for many years, some of her favorite experiences include – In New York: New play development for Pan Asian Rep, La MaMa E.T.C., and New Dramatists. Regionally: W;tFrench Lieutenant’s Woman, Enchanted April, Noises Off, August, Osage County(Fulton Opera House), Death of a Salesman, Two Headed, Hamlet (Mill Mountain),W;t, Noises Off (Pennsylvania Centre Stage), The Winter’s Tale, Morning’s at Seven, The Foreigner, All’s Well That Ends Well(Utah Shakespeare), Twelfth Night, Henry V (Orlando Shakespeare) and a particular favorite The Importance of Being Earnest at PSF.

ZACK ROBIDAS, Algernon; Claudio, Measure. He has appeared in Much Ado, OthelloThe Winter’s TaleThe Taming of the ShrewHenry IV Part 1Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice with PSF. He has also worked on multiple productions with The Orlando Shakespeare Theater and NYC’s Flux Theatre Ensemble. Film credits: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseArbitrageIt’s ComplicatedTooth and Nail, and The Golden Scallop. TV: Blue Blood, 30 RockCSI:NYLaw and OrderL&O Criminal Intent, I Just Want My Pants BackKings, as well as ESPN’s digital series The Pretty Good Sports Show.

WAYNE S. TURNEY, Rev. Chasuble; Escalus, Measure. Professor on the Theatre faculty at DeSales, where he recently directed his own adaptation of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. PSF: Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid, Gonzalo in Tempest. Theatre: Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Actors’ Summit, the Cleveland Play House, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and many others.

THOM WEAVER, Lighting Designer. PSF: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Complete Works. Regional: Wilma, Arden, Azuka, People’s Light, Walnut, Theatre Exile, Curtis Opera, and others. Some other credits: Teller’s Play Dead in Las Vegas and NYC, Children’s Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre, Berkshire Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Yale Rep and others. Awards: 2 Barrymores and 14 nominations, 2-time City Paper’s Best Lighting Design, 3-time Helen Hayes Nominee, and 2007 AUDELCO Award for King Hedley II, Signature Theatre.

GREG WOOD, Lane; Vincentio, Measure. 19th season at PSF. Roles include: Prospero in The Tempest, King John in King John, Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, Antony in Antony Cleopatra, Hamlet/Claudius in Hamlet, and Richard III. Other recent credits: Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale for People’s Light & Theatre Co., and Alan in God of Carnage at the Walnut St. Theatre. Film and TV credits: The Discoverers, The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening, The Answer Man, Bereavement, Bottleworld, Killing Emmett Young, A Gentlemen’s Game, Law & Order, Ed, Hack, and Homicide.

LISA ZINNI, Costume Designer, Earnest and 39 Steps. Some PSF favorites: Sweeney Todd, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antony and Cleopatra, Amadeus, The Man of La Mancha, My Fair Lady, and The Imaginary Invalid. Recent credits: Titus Andronicus (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre) and Grease (Walnut Street Theatre). Lisa was the Associate Costume Designer for the Broadway, National Tours and International companies for Rent, Hair, and A Christmas Story the Musical. Other credits: Off-Broadway, Roundabout Theatre underground, The Arden Theatre Company, Peoples Light, Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Syracuse Stage, The Cape Playhouse.