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  • Writer's pictureFrank Connelly

Little Theatre of Norfolk's An Ideal Husband a Classic Tale of Relationship and Public Image

Left to Right: Sean Thompson as Sir Robert Chiltern; Lois Digges as Lady Chiltern; Jessi Dipette McGarrah as Mrs Cheveley and Moriah Joy as Mabel Chiltern

Words by Frank Connelly. Images Courtesy of Little Theatre of Norfolk

Little Theatre of Norfolk opens its 95th Season with Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. The play opens October 15, 2021 and is extended till October 30, 2021. An Ideal Husband is directed by Kay Lynn Perry.

An Ideal Husband explores corruption and morality, bringing an act of political sin into the heart of the English home. An ambitious government minister, Sir Robert Chiltern’s smooth ascent to the top seems assured. Until Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning proof of his past financial chicanery. A choice must be made between public scandal and the private shame of his righteous wife. An Ideal Husband features Sean Thompson as the ideal husband in question, Sir Robert Chiltern; Lois Digges as the good wife Lady Chiltern; Jessi DiPette McGarrah as the conniving Mrs. Cheveley; and Michael Stypulkoski as Lord Goring, the Wildean dandy and faithful friend of the Chilterns. Other characters in "An Ideal Husband includes Robert Chapman as Lord Caversham; Moriah Joy as Mabel Chiltern; Elisa Cortez as Lady Basildon; Leah Thompson as Mrs Marchmont; Annabelle Dragas Xanthos as Mrs Markby; and Anna Tozzi Barbay as May/Harriett.

Kay Lynn Perry believes that An Ideal Husband has parallels to today's events; the question of whether there is room for forgiveness. She relates the characters to politicians who are first put on a pedestal but then are attacked by the media. Can those defamed politicians be forgiven?

Perry also points out that An Ideal Husband is comical. "Audiences will laugh and feel good themselves." She also mentioned that audiences will enjoy the costumes as the show is set in the Victorian era.

Sean Thompson plays Robert Chiltern. Sean feels that the character is nuanced with good and bad traits. "It's a very verbose play. Kay Lynn is using blocking to move characters through a dinner party (with a few side conversations). The entire play takes place within 24 hours. In just a few short scenes we are tasked with playing out entire lifetimes of each character. That means that every gesture or movement needs to make sense in the context of the conversations and move multiple storylines." Sean intends to make Chiltern honorable and likable. He also wants to make him sympathetic due to his past indiscretions, which threaten to break down his "house of cards" public image. He wants to convince the audience of his undying love for his wife, who has him trapped in her sense of righteousness. "Chiltern can be considered a trivial character. It is Lord Goring who saves the day with his sensibility and wit. Lord Goring could be considered as the 'ideal husband'. However many will consider Chiltern the 'ideal husband'."

Left to Right: Lois Digges as Lady Chiltern; Jessi Dipette McGarrah as Mrs Cheveley and Moriah Joy as Mabel Chiltern

Jessi Depette McGarrah plays Mrs Cheveley, a schemer and British aristocrat. She will have a lot of fun in this role. "I feel that as a younger woman, she was rejected more times than pleased her. Since she cannot find her own 'ideal husband', she is on a mission to ruin those perfect relationships around her and spurn the societal view that marriage is the ultimate prize. Hence the excessive manipulation and need for power."

Sean Thompson stated that An Ideal Husband is in public domain. "The theatre community has been devastated by the pandemic; the hope is that many will return to see it."

Little Theatre of Norfolk's An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde opens their 95th season. Performances take place at Little Theatre of Norfolk 801 Claremont Ave in Norfolk, from October 15 - October 30. Get more info, prices, and purchase tickets here.

Editor's Note: Little Theatre of Norfolk adjusted the schedule of this performance just before press time (an accurate schedule is reflected in this article). Their message about the schedule adjustment with information for anyone who may have been affected by the changes can be found here.

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