Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 204th season with an all-new production of Oscar Wilde's dramatic masterpiece AN IDEAL HUSBAND. This classic comedy, directed by Malcolm Black, begins previews on January 15th, opens on January 23rd and runs through March 3rd on the WST Mainstage.
AN IDEAL HUSBAND is a wonderfully witty story of romance, insider trading and scandal. Sir Robert Chiltern is a highly respected politician whose spotless reputation is the pride of his beautiful wife and adoring sister. When an Old Acquaintance threatens to reveal a dark secret from Robert's past, only his womanizing, party-loving best friend is scheming and dishonest enough to come to his aid. As the story unfolds, it's revealed that the man thought to be perfect is flawed and the man with all the flaws must do something right. AN IDEAL HUSBAND explores morality and the greater standard that seems to fall upon those individuals in the public eye.
Oscar Wilde's AN IDEAL HUSBAND opened at the Haymarket Theatre in London's West End in January of 1895. It had its Broadway premiere in March of the same year at the Lyceum Theatre. Broadway revivals followed in 1918 at the Comedy Theatre and 1996 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Following The Importance of Being Earnest, AN IDEAL HUSBAND is Wilde's second most-produced play. The play's popularity led to multiple film versions having been release in 1947, 1998 and 1999, as well as a BBC produced television movie (1969) and a BBC Radio production (2007).
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 as Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. An impressive collegiate career awarded him with a Demyship scholarship to attend Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating, he moved to London before touring across the United States, Britain and Ireland delivering a series of lectures on aesthetics. Following a position with Woman's World magazine and writing children's stories, Wilde wrote his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was published in 1891. Many would agree he is one of the greatest playwrights of the Victorian Era, having written and produced nine plays in his short lifetime.
Guiding AN IDEAL HUSBAND on the Walnut stage is veteran Director Malcolm Black, whose experience ranges all across the United States and Canada. Oscar Wilde's classic comedy marks the 30th production Black has directed at the theatre. This is a meaningful number shared with Walnut's President and Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard, who is celebrating his 30th Anniversary with the theatre this year. At the invitation of Havard, Black directed Morning's at Seven for the Walnut Street Theatre Company's first season as a self-producing theatre in 1984. Black's numerous credits at the Walnut include last season's The Mousetrap, Amadeus, Damn Yankees, The Constant Wife and Streetcar Named Desire.
Elegantly masking the schemes and deceit with grace and grandeur are Walnut veterans Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach (The Music Man, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story), Costume Designer Colleen Grady (Barrymore Award-winner – Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage Aux Folles), Lighting Designer Shelley Hicklin (Barrymore Award-winner – Of Mice and Men) and award-winning Sound Designer Christopher Colucci (The Mousetrap, Amadeus).
The mystery, romance, intrigue and laughter of AN IDEAL HUSBAND will be brought to life by a cast of both familiar faces and Walnut newcomers. Ian Merrill Peakes (Enchanted April, Of Mice and Men) is the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs with a spotless reputation, Sir Robert Chiltern. His beautiful wife Lady Chiltern will be played by Jennie Eisenhower (Fiddler on the Roof, Fallen Angels). Ian D. Clark (Amadeus) will play Lord Caversham with Walnut newcomer Luigi Sottile as his son, the debonair Lord Goring. Kate Fahrner (Miss Saigon) returns to the Walnut to wreak havoc as the blackmailer Mrs. Cheveley. Wendy Scharfman (The Glass Menagerie) joins the cast as Lady Markby, Grace Gonglewski (A Streetcar Named Desire) as Lady Basildon, Charlotte Northeast (The Mousetrap) as Mrs. Marchmont, Harry Smith (The Mousetrap) as Vicomte de Nanjac and Paul L. Nolan (The Mousetrap) as Mason. Kevin Bergen (Mr. Montford) and Lynnia Shanley (Mabel Chiltern) will make their Walnut debuts in this production.