PIQUA — It’s like going to see a 3-D movie but without the glasses.
That’s how one actor described the experience of going to see the Edison Stagelight Players performance of “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Written by Oscar Wilde, the play is described as “a trivial comedy for serious people.”
“It’s been awesome,” William Loudermilk, the director of the play and associate professor of English, said.
Loudermilk, who has been an associate professor at Edison since 1998, said that this group of actors has been one of the best groups he has worked with since he started participating in Edison plays in 2000 and directing plays in 2007.
Those who have also seen “The Importance of Being Earnest” are expected to get a performance tailored to this group, which pulls no punches when it comes to hitting the punchlines.
“I think we work really hard to bring out the humor and have fun with it … It’s not so starchy,” Loudermilk said. “There’s a lot of poking fun at society and the idea of keeping up appearances in society.”
While “The Importance of Being Earnest” first premiered in 1895, Loudermilk set this production of it in around 1905. Loudermilk also explained that while they went all out for their fall play, the set for this production is a “simple, representative” set.
“It’s been a journey,” said Jocelyn “Monet” Garner, who is one of the actors cast as Cecily Cardew and Emily the Maid. Those roles were double-cast between Garner and Clarissa Kiehl, as they will be switching off nights with their portrayals of Cecily, one of the main leads. Garner will be performing as Cecily on Thursday and Saturday, while Kiehl will be performing as Cecily on Friday and Sunday.
Garner is in the 10th grade at Piqua High School and has been participating in the Edison Stagelight Players since 2008, performing in seven plays.
“It broadens people’s horizons,” Kiehl said about the play.
Kiehl, 14, attends Houston High School and has performed in three Edison Stagelight Players productions along with plays at her school.
“It’s bittersweet to get to the end,” said Owen Swigert, who is cast to play Alergnon Moncrieff. Swigert, 16, is a student at Houston High School and is participating in his eighth play and the sixth one with Edison Stagelight Players. He is energetic and expressive in his portrayal of Algernon.
Swigert is at his best as Algernon in his interactions with the character John “Jack” Worthing, being portrayed by Matthew Cline. This is Cline’s second production with the Edison Stagelight Players. Cline has been involved in theatre since he was a student at Arcanum between 2007 and 2010.
As Algernon and Jack, they find themselves joking about societial expectations along with the woes of deceiving the women they love and when it comes back to haunt them. Audiences will also be entertained with their stage blocking when it comes to Worthing chasing Algernon around for a cigarette case and Algernon starting a “sword fight” with gardening tools.
Those gardening tools are provided by the character of Henry, who is being played by Kevin Grogean, a veteran actor with 20 years of experience. Grogean’s roles as Henry the Gardner and as Willie the Butler are among the many little treats in the background of the action going on in the play.
Among other treats in the play are Sandy Hartley, a retired high school teacher, as Miss Latisha Prism, who flirts with the entertaining Reverend Dr. Chasuble, played by Chris Garner, a returning member of the Edison Stagelight Players. Alexander Gilson, a graduate of Houston High School and the Upper Valley Career Center, also entertains as Lane the Butler along with Valerie Leanza, a Troy High School graduate and Edison employee through the Capabilities program, playing Mary the Maid.
Lastly, but also among the first to entertain, are Jessica Poeppelman as Lady Augusta Bracknell and Julia Bogart as Gwendolen Fairfax. It will be hard for audiences to figure how who will be giving them more laughs, Swigert as Algernon or Poeppelman as Lady Augusta. Both Poeppelman and Bogart have past theatre experience, this being Bogart’s second play with the Edison Stagelight Players. Both are thoroughly entertaining and lively in their portrayals of their respective characters.
The Edison Stagelight Players’ production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” continues tonight at 7:30 p.m., along with Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 for Edison students, and $3 for senior citizens. The play will take place in Robinson Theatre at Edison State Community College, located at 1973 Edison Drive in Piqua.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336