Office of Public Affairs

(315) 312-2265

Sept. 25, 2003

CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097


    OSWEGO -- Director Paul Savas has one piece of advice for those heading to "The Importance of Being Earnest," the Oscar Wilde comedy that will begin the SUNY Oswego theatre season: "Be ready to laugh."

    Called "a trivial comedy for serious people," the play pokes satirical fun at the upper crust of London's high society. The Oswego production will open Oct. 10 in Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre.

    "We've taken this script and are playing to its over-the-top comedy and Vaudeville nature," said Savas, a visiting assistant professor in SUNY Oswego's theatre department. "The cast is having a great time with the play, something I'm sure the audience will appreciate and is sure to laugh along with us."

    Savas chose to move the play to the 1920s because another Waterman Theatre fall production, Oswego Opera Theatre's "A Little Night Music," is set in the Wilde's late Victorian, Edwardian era. "Secondly, for the very rich, the 1920s were a time of jovial well-being, which is reflected in our musical choices and dance numbers," he added. Jonel Langenfeld-Rial of the theatre department serves as choreographer.

    Scenic and lighting designer Joe Rial sets the first act, in Algernon’s London flat, in the pit of the stage decked out in the latest deco style. This setting disappears in later acts, as the pit descends out of the audience's sight.

    Rial's garden design for the second set includes a gazebo and trellis with realistic lighting "that allows for a lot of 'cat-and-mouse' moments between the flirting couples," Savas explained. A faux act curtain caps the first act and frames the second act, meant to build on the Vaudeville feel of the show. The design team has eliminated a second intermission by placing the third act in the garden, he added.

    Playing on the opulence and extravagant nature of the characters, costume designer and theatre Professor Kitty Macey's pieces will feature a lot of silks. Macey is working with senior theatre major Becky Hamlin who is serving as second costume designer.

    "The 1920s fashion saw women's hemlines that fell below the knee," Macey said, "and accessories were key. Beaded handbags, hats, loud wraps and ostrich feathers were all popular and will be featured in this show." Macey added that "three-piece fitted suits were par for the men with a very clean-cut, groomed appearance."

    Audience members are encouraged to visit Savas' Web site at to track the progress of the show through the director's journal and to see set drawings and costume designs.

    "The Importance of Being Earnest" will preview at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, with all seats $5. The production will feature 8 p.m. curtain times Oct. 10, 11, 17 and 18 with a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee Oct. 19.

    For information or reservations, call the Tyler box office at 312-2141 or visit the new Oswego arts Web site at

    The theatre department will offer school matinees on Oct. 14 and 15. To inquire about reservations for schools, call the Tyler box office manager at 312-3097.

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Rival women shoot daggers at each other, with their stares, in this rehearsal image

SHOOTING DAGGERS -- Cecily (Heather Berg, left) and Gwendolyn (Sondra Tackett) stare each other down in this early rehearsal image for the SUNY Oswego production of Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners "The Importance of Being Earnest." The production, which opens SUNY Oswego's theatre season, will feature 8 p.m. curtain times Oct. 10, 11, 17 and 18 with a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee Oct. 19. For reservations, call the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141. For more information, visit the new Oswego arts Web site at

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