02/18/2023 1:00 pm
by Sara Myers
The Rockford University Performing Arts department will kick of its season Feb. 23 with “The Importance of Being Earnest” — an Oscar Wilde classic directed by RU’s Deborah Mogford.
The production will start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the Maddox Theatre at the Clark Arts Center, 5050 E. State St., Rockford. There will be additional showings at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Maddox Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone at (815) 226-4100 or through email: email@example.com.
Oscar Wilde was an Irish author, poet and playwright. His play, “The Importance of Being Earnest” was released in 1895 and is his most popular comedy that is still being performed.
“It is a classic of 1895,” Mogford said. “It continues to be going around the world even today. We chose it because it’s a comedy of manners and it’s a good thing for students to have that particular genre.”
The main cast includes: Josh Ponsones, Andrew Ashley, Jake Rogers, Jessica Rathbun, Emmarie Wilson, and Kade De Angioletti.
Many of the actors traveled far from home to attend RU’s Performing Arts program. Ponsones is from San Diego, California; Wilson is from Fort Worth, Texas; De Angioletti from Leesburg, Virginia; and both Rogers and Rathbun are from Aurora, Colorado.
The actors, most who are seniors this year, said they’ve had fun learning the material, as well as getting to know each other.
For both Wilson and Ashley, performing with a smaller cast has been very impactful. They’re bonding and have a greater appreciation for the characters’ individual stories.
For Rathbun, the smaller cast allows everyone more room since they take up the space with their “characterizations and presence.”
Wilde’s writing is still relevant today, De Angioletti said.
“That humor still transcends and people still find the jokes funny,” De Angioletti said, adding that the cast laughed during the read through.
Rathbun, who plays Miss Prism, has enjoyed the balancing act of doing a small show but also looks forward to their next production of Urinetown, a larger musical production.
For Ponsones, one thing he said he took away from his character, and the production in general, was to not let so much of his own personality into the character.
“As somebody who is very into large gestures and always uses their hands a lot,” Ponsones said, “I have to keep my hands completely in place, all the time. I’ve learned you don’t need to use your hands so much when you talk.”
Roger plays John and has learned to tap into the duality of his character. He said he’s learned to let his guard down, while still keeping his composure.
“That has been a balance I haven’t really seen before,” he said.
The cast is ultimately looking forward to bringing their characters to life in front of a live audience.
“I’m sure since we’re having so much fun, it’ll be fun for the audience too,” Ashley said.
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