As previously reported (See News, 15 Aug 2007), Peter Gill’s new revival of Oscar Wilde’s classic 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Penelope Keith (pictured) as Lady Bracknell, will transfer to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre in the new year following a UK tour this autumn. Dates have now been confirmed at the Vaudeville where it will open on 29 January 2008 (previews from 22 January) and is initially booking until 26 April, prior to the theatre’s planned spring/summer closure for refurbishment.

In The Importance of Being Earnest, prim-and-proper Jack Worthington is in love with the equally prim-and-proper Gwendolyn Fairfax. His friend Algernon Moncrieff is in love with Cecily Cardew. But both Gwendolyn and Cecily are in love with Ernest. Meanwhile, the imposing Lady Bracknell is dubious about a story involving a handbag …

The last major West End outing for the Wilde comedy was at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1999, when Patricia Routledge played Lady Bracknell in Christopher Morahan’s production transferred from the Chichester Festival (See News, 11 Jun 1999).

Penelope Keith was herself most recently seen on stage at Chichester in last summer’s world premiere of Richard Everett’s comedy Entertaining Angels, which she also took on tour. Her last West End outing was in Bath’s 2004 transfer of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Savoy. Keith’s many other stage credits include Time and the Conways, Star Quality, On Approval, Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Glyn and It, Mrs Warren's Profession and Good Grief. She’s also well known for her classic TV sitcom roles in The Good Life and To the Manor Born. She was awarded a CBE in this year’s New Year Honours List (See News, 2 Jan 2007).

Keith is joined in the cast of The Importance of Being Earnest by William Ellis, Harry Hadden-Paton, Daisy Haggard, Janet Henfrey, Maxwell Hutcheon, Rebecca Night, Roger Swaine and Tim Wylton. Playwright-director Peter Gill’s recent credits include his own play The York Realist as well as Scenes from the Big Picture, The Voysey Inheritance and, at the Old Vic this summer, Gaslight. The production is designed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner William Dudley (The Woman in White).

Ahead of the West End, the new Theatre Royal Bath production opens for a fortnight in Bath on 12 September 2007 (previews from 10 September) and then tours for two months to Guildford, Edinburgh, Malvern, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Cambridge, Chichester and Richmond, where the tour concludes on 24 November 2007.

Currently at the Vaudeville, dance extravaganza Stomp closes on 23 September 2007, after a run of five years (See News, 19 Jul 2007). It’s followed by the world premiere stage adaptation of the cult 1994 film Swimming with Sharks, starring Christian Slater and Helen Baxendale (See Today’s Other News), which runs for 15 weeks from 16 October (previews from 5 October).

- by Terri Paddock