Half in Ernest

by Vivian Ellis
Cast & Crew

 in order of appearance
Algernon ….Chesney Talbot
Lane ….Stephen Hendren
Jack ….Mike McCaw
Lady Bracknell ….Anne Wright
Gwendolyn ….Rachel Harrison
Cecily ….Helen Dawson
Miss Prism ….Margaret Thompson
Dr. Chasuble…. Brent Andrews
Merriman ….Ken Wright

Director Nita Bennett
Musical director Peter Wakefield
Choreographer Kay Lilley
Pianists Christine Grindrod
Gillian Barker
Set design & decor Sally McKee
Construction David McKee,
Richard & Mandy Thackray, Tim Smith,
Reg Guerin, Terry Foley
Stage manager Stephen Hendren, Ken Wright
Lighting Brian Hilton
Sound Sam Winterbottom, Ian Shepherd
Video links John Butterworth
Wardrobe June Holmes, Patricia Redshaw
Props Ann Hilton
Prompt Edwina
Rigby, Norma Kilpatrick
P.A. Anne Wright
Director’s Note

This glorious musical adaptation of Oscar Wildes classic The Importance of Being Earnest, sees John Worthing – Jack in the country, but Earnest in the city, attempting to overcome the fearsome Lady Bracknell, and his own humble origins, and win the hand of Gwendoline Fairfax

John Worthing, who calls himself Jack in the country but Earnest in town, wants to marry Gwendolen Fairfax, daughter of the formidable Lady Bracknell.  

Worthing’s background is so obscure – as a baby he was found in a handbag at London’s Victoria Station – that Lady Bracknell strongly objects to the marriage.  

His friend in London, Algernon Moncrierff, discovers the whereabouts of Worthing’s country estate on which lives his pretty young ward, Cecily Cardew.  

She is under the tutelage of the governess, Miss Prism.  The important question is whether Worthing is, or not, called Earnest, because Gwendolen would never marry anyone whose name was not Earnest.  Eventually comes the revelation that Worthing is actually the son of Lady Bracknell’s sister.  

He was left in the handbag through the absentmindedness of the governess.  

His name is Earnest John Moncrieff and he is therefore the brother of his friend Algernon.  

Marriages are planned between Cecily and Algernon and Miss Prism and Dr Chasuable. Gwendolen feels able to marry Worthing because his name really is Earnest and he knows for the first time in his life the vital importance of being Earnest.  (In addition to the familiar character of the well-known comedy, a small chorus is required to augment the singing, occupying what appears to the audience as two theatre boxes on each side of the stage.) 

Review by Jude Gidney

Saddleworth Players last did a musical (Gigi) in 2000 and thought it was long overdue to do another.

Saddleworth Players last did a musical (Gigi) in 2000 and thought it was long overdue to do another.

They have selected ‘Half is Earnest’a musical adaptation of ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde. The dialogue is very true to the book – handbag, Victoria Station and all that – and the music is of its period, 1950s.

Vivian Ellis was a musical genius who produced many songs and musicals in the 1920s and 30s. ‘Spread a Little Happiness’ from ‘Mr. Cinders’ is perhaps the most famous but he also wrote’ Coronation Scot’, the theme music for ‘Paul Temple’ in the famous radio series.

 Half in Earnest dates from 1958 when Ellis decided to join the then current vogue for ‘little’ musicals such as ’Salad Days’, ‘Free As Air’ and ‘Boyfriend’. The music is ‘catchy’, splendid, clever lyrics and great entertainment. The show was last performed in this part of the world by Crompton Stage Society (Playhouse 2) in the 1970s.

In their version the cast is exactly as the play, Lady Bracknell is in the very safe hands of Anne Wright, Cicely (her daughter) – Rachel Harrison, Gwendolen – Helen Dawson; the two suitors, Algernon and Jack are played by Chesney Talbot and Mike McCaw, both members of the very popular fundraising group, Musical Friends. The cause of all the trouble Miss Prism, is Maragaret Thompson. Brent Andrews is the Rev, Chasuble and the butlers are Ian Crickett and Stephen Hendren.

The super ‘art nouveau’ set is by Sally McKee and the ladies’ costumes are being made in-house. The director is award-winner Nita Bennett from Mossley, Musical Director is Peter Wakefield and choreographer is Kay Lilley.


Sat 8th June 2013


7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

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