WSCC’s ‘Earnest’ to begin two-week run April 5

John Worthing (Thomas Batchelor, a theatre major from Parrottsville) tries to strike up a conversation with Gwendolen Fairfax (Ashley Kelley, theatre major from Maynardville) in a scene from Walters State’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The show runs for two weekends beginning on April 5.

Join Walters State’s Department of Music and Theatre for one of the classic comedies – Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The production opens a two-weekend run on April 5.

The play capitalizes on Wilde’s dry wit and sense of parody to create two of the funniest hours in theatre.

Director TJ Kent calls this the original play about nothing.

“Ostensibly, this play has all the elements of a compelling narrative,” Kent said. “Two men are pursuing love and marriage. We’ve seen this type of story a hundred times, going back to the earliest forms of drama. Oscar Wilde did this better than most, but it’s still about nothing – nothing of consequence anyway, and that’s the point. Wilde sought to parody the ‘importance’ of being earnest. The characters in the play treat the trivial as important and the important as trivial.”

Kent compares the characters to those in modern-day “Saturday Night Live” sketches.

“We are permitted, even encouraged, to laugh at them without guilt or consequence.”

One feature almost completely unique to this play is its lack of a hero.

“We are so used to going to a play and cheering for one of the characters,” Kent said. “This play doesn’t have any good guys. That’s what makes it so funny. There’s no one in this play who we can hold up as an example. The essence of comedy is ridiculing behavior that should be avoided, and the behavior in this play should most definitely be avoided.”

The cast is young, but together they bring years of experience to the Walters State stage.

Thomas Batchelor is cast as John Worthing. He was in the college’s fall production of “Hamlet.” Jeromy Brown is cast as Lane. Alexx Hallberg is cast as Algernon Moncrieff. This is Hallberg’s first time onstage, although he has worked in lighting for several area productions. Kenneth Hill Plays Merriman. Ashley Kelley is cast as Gwendolen Fairfax. She played the title role in the fall production of “Hamlet.”

Amelia Mooneyham is cast as Cecily Cardew. She has appeared in “Les Miserables” and “The Secret Garden.” John Morie is cast as Rev. Cannon Chasuble. He was in the fall production of “Hamlet.” Delaney Quaderer is cast as Miss Prism. She appeared in “Heathers: The Musical,” “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Addams Family: The Musical.”

Jacques DuRand is cast as Lady Bracknell. He is the only non-student in the play. His extensive theatre experience includes work with Encore Theatrical Company, the Clarence Brown Theatre and the Tennessee Stage Company.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. on April 5, 6, 12 and 13 with 2:30 p.m. shows on April 7 and 14. Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

Reservations can be made by calling 423-585-6922 or emailing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The box office opens one hour before each show. Performances will be in the theatre of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex on the Morristown Campus.