- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The cast may all be teenagers, but the Twin Beach Players’ production of Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” proves these kids can turn a room full of their peers, and adults, into bellied-over subjects who can’t help but laugh out loud.
Set during the British Victorian era, the play focuses on John “Ernest” Worthing who comes to London to visit his friend Algernon Moncrieff, who knows him as Ernest, to propose to Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen. Gwendolen says she would never consider marrying a man who was not named Ernest, which she says “inspires absolute confidence.” When Algernon finds Worthing’s cigarette case with another name and a woman’s name inscribed, he accuses him of living a double life. Worthing confesses to calling himself John in the country and referring to a brother named Ernest to his young ward, Cecily Cardew, whom Algernon aspires to marry. Hilarity ensues as both men dig themselves in deeper and as Gwendolen and Cecily learn who the men really are.
Wilde’s seemingly frivolous play, set during the British Victorian era, jokes with a purpose. The simple, yet dialogue-rich, characters are more slapstick than serious. However, they are vessels for Wilde’s “witticisms,” mocking the shallow and upper-class obsessed with proper social order.
“What is so great about this production is that our older teen members are stepping up to show what they have learned as junior members of Twin Beach Players over the years,” Sid Curl, president of Twin Beach Players, said.
TBP’s young actors have no difficulty communicating Wilde’s sardonic quips and farce movements while performing last weekend and this weekend at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club.
Jeffrey Thompson, a 16-year-old incoming senior at Northern High School, takes a hilarious fall as John “Ernest” Worthing, the play’s protagonist and chief troublemaker. After practicing this stunt many times during rehearsals, Thompson said he quickly “learned how to fall without hurting [himself].”
A longtime fan of Oscar Wilde, Thompson claims this to be his favorite role to date.
“[John Worthing] is a ridiculous character. He’s so blunt and forward,” Thompson said. Thompson has been performing in productions since he was 12. He plans to pursue theater after high school. This summer, he will be attending New York University’s summer study in musical theater camp. He also has plans to audition for theater schools along the East Coast, including NYU, Temple and Coastal Carolina this year.
After stuffing his face with cucumber sandwiches while pricelessly trying to get out his lines, Aaron Fowler, an incoming freshman at Huntingtown High School, appreciated how similar his character, Algernon Moncrieff, was to himself.
“He represents me because I eat a lot and I’m sarcastic,” Fowler, 13, said.
Fowler started acting in productions when he was in fourth grade. Part of what he loves about theater is the strong friendships that form between cast members. “We’ve all become a family and we support each other,” Fowler said.
The director, 19-year-old Brianna Workcuff, is no novice to the theater world, but made her full-length directorial debut with “Earnest.” The College of Southern Maryland theater major has been a stage manager and assistant director for several past shows. Workcuff also directed a one-act Kids Playwriting Festival in 2012.
Workcuff said watching the cast and hearing the audience’s positive reaction makes her feel like a proud mother.
“I’m so happy when a joke goes off as it should. [The actors] get to hear their hard work paying off, and we’re making people happy,” Workcuff said.
Though acting is her first love, she said she loved seeing the actors’ confidence grow throughout rehearsals.
Katherine Willham, 18, plays the sprightly Cecily Cardew, John Worthing’s young ward and the apple of Algernon Moncrieff’s eye. Willham has been with TBP for two years but has been in theater for seven. For her, theater provides an escape — an opportunity to be someone other than herself.
“I’ve never played a character like this. She was fun and quirky and sweet, and just the right amount of bad,” Willham said. She said the cast members are great friends and playing Cecily Cardew has been her favorite role to date.
“Fulfilling the passions of children in allowing them to exercise their imagination adds to the process of realizing their own potential,” Curl said.
In August, the Twin Beach Players will be presenting its eighth annual Kids Playwriting Festival, which drew more than 60 local children to audition, Curl said. The playwriting competition is made up of six winning entries that will perform Aug. 2 through 11 at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club. In addition to seeing their plays come to life, the six winning playwrights will receive $100.
If you go
The show will run this weekend at 7 p.m. June 28-29 and 2 p.m. June 30 at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave., North Beach.
For ticket and show information, go to www.twinbeachplayers.com or www.facebook.com/twinbeachplayers.