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Roundabout’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST begins previews tonight on Broadway with an official opening on January 13th, 2011 at the American Airlines Theatre (227 W42nd St.).

The Daily News
December 17, 2010


The Importance of Being Earnest

Brian Bedford pulls off ‘Earnest’ performance dressed as Lady Bracknell

Joe Dziemianowicz

The dude looks like a lady.


Make that Lady, as in Lady Bracknell, the formidable Victorian gentlewoman in Oscar Wilde‘s witty satire “The Importance of Being Earnest.”


That thought occurs to you, looking at pictures of Brian Bedford wearing an ornate red frock and hat as the authoritarian aristocrat in a new Broadway production of the 1895 play. The show launches tonight at the American Airlines Theatre.


But the 75-year-old English actor, who also directs the Roundabout Theatre Company revival running through March 6, would prefer audiences concentrate on the words in the bon mot-dusted comedy of mistaken identities, not on cross-dressing. “La Cage aux Folles” this isn’t.


“The novelty aspect of a man playing Lady B. could be distracting and actually damaging to the audience’s experience of this great play,” says Bedford. “So the challenge is to make her absolutely real and as dimensional as possible, with no hint of transvestitism. I’ve tried very hard to do that.”


He has had practice. Bedford assumed the guise, gaze and gown of Lady Bracknell in a 2009 production of the play at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, which he also directed.


On Broadway, there have been eight previous Lady Bracknells, all played by women – most recently Elizabeth Wilson in 1977 and Margaret Rutherford in 1947.


But a gender-bending Bracknell is hardly unprecedented. Actor Alex Webb portrayed her Off-Broadway in 2003. A Chicago production with a man in the role is running now.


Read the full feature here:



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