Shows E

ERNEST IN LOVE Music by Lee Pockriss, book and lyrics by Anne Croswell Gramercy Arts Theatre (New York) 4 May, 1960 (111 perfs) Synopsis With a mixture of fresh tunes and witty lyrics, Oscar Wilde's much loved comedy The Importance of Being Ernest is given new dimensions. All the mad-cap elements make this an ideal entertainment for all performing groups. Songs include, "Lost", "A Handbag Is Not a Proper Mother", "My Very First Impression" and "A Wicked Man". STORY Act I The show opens on a shop-lined London street on a summer afternoon. Lane, Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff 's manservant, with a marketing basket on his arm, enters. At the green grocer, he meets Perkins, Jack Worthing's manservant. Here, Perkins learns that Lady Bracknell and her daughter, Gwendolen, are coming over to Algy's house for tea later that day. The two servants are then besieged by various vendors (greengrocer, bootmaker, dancing master, tobacconist, etc.) who are all upset because they are owed quite a bit of money by both Jack and Algy. The opening number "Come Raise Your Cup" has Lane and Perkins commenting on how the rich never pay their debts is what makes the English society so special. The merchants stop their complaining and join in. Immediately following, at Jack Worthing's living room in the heart of London, Jack is writing a letter to Lady Gwendolen Fairfax. Perkins returns and reminds Jack about his debts, but Jack doesn't seem to be too concerned about this. He is more interested in the other news Perkins has for him - Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen are gong to Algy's house for tea later that day. Actually, Algy's flat would be the perfect setting for Jack to propose to Gwendolen. Jack asks Perkins about proposing marriage to a woman; unfortunately, Perkins doesn't have any real good advice since he was only engaged once - and that was a misunderstanding. Alone Jack, dresses himself for tea and sings "How Do You Find the Words" thinking of just how he will propose to Gwendolen. In Gwendolen's dressing room, about the same time, she is there trying on a variety of hats. Her maid, Alice, has told her that Jack will be at her cousin Algy's house for tea - Perkins stopped by earlier to inform them, and Gwendolen wants to look as beautiful as possible. She, too, has been invited there for tea and is certain that Jack will propose marriage today. In fact, she must find the perfect hat - since that's the first thing a man notices about a woman. She and Alice sing "The Hat," and by the song's end, they have found the just the right hat for a marriage proposal. The scene shifts to Algy's living room where tea is set. Lane is giving the final once-over when the doorbell rings - it's Jack who is "surprising" Algy. Algy informs Jack that his Aunt Augusta (Lady Bracknell) and Cousin Gwendolen are coming over. Jack tells Algy that he is excited about this coincidence (He has actually planned it all along.) because he has come to town expressly to propose to Gwendolen. Unfortunately, Algy informs Jack that he will never be able to marry Gwendolen because his aunt doesn't approve of him. You see, Jack and Gwendolen both flirt with each other, and that is perfectly disgraceful as far as Lady Bracknell is concerned. Also Algy doesn't give his consent. It seems that Jack left a cigarette case at his house last time he dined there with an inscription which read "From little Cecily, with her fondest love, to her dear Uncle Jack. " When pressed, Jack confesses that Cecily is actually his eighteen-year-old ward with whom he lives in his country house. (Mr. Thomas Cardew, who adopted Jack as a boy, stated in his will that he watch over his grand-daughter, Cecily, after he die.) Also, in the country Jack is known as Jack, but here in London as Ernest. "Jack," is a guardian - a man of very high moral standards. However, he does still like to play, so he tells people in the country that he has a brother, Ernest, who gets into the worst trouble, and Jack goes to town to rescue him. Algy actually believes him because he, too, has invented another persona - a permanent invalid called Bunbury whom he goes to visit in the country whenever he wishes to get out of town and have a bit of fun. Jack at first sees this as very distasteful and immoral; however, in the song "Mr. Bunbury" Algy