Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is the 19th-century comedy that still plays well today, says John Woodson, director of the Porthouse Theatre production that opens Friday. "He takes the piss out of the society of that day," he says. "Today, we also have a lot of conventions and do's and don'ts. Using the conventions of that time period, Wilde says that [society] people were really stuffed shirts."
Wilde's tale of two guys relieving boredom in 1890s England is sort of a Slacker for the Victorian era, but with better dialogue. "Even though these people were corseted and in formal suits, they still had flesh and blood, and feelings and desires and needs," Woodson says. "Underneath that is what drives the play."
The show is not so timeless that it can't stand for a little tweaking. Says Woodson, "I'm exploring the reality of the situation. I'm moving it a little bit away from a comedy of manners into a situation comedy." The Importance of Being Earnest is at the Porthouse Theatre at Blossom Music Center (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) Friday through July 19. Show times are 8 Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to $22; call 800-304-2363. -- Michael Gallucci
In Their Tribe
10,000 Maniacs bounce back from losses.
It's been a tough decade for 10,000 Maniacs. First, singer Natalie Merchant left the band for a solo career that's pushed her formal folk rock into more worldly, less joyful territory. Then, a couple of years ago, founding guitarist Robert Buck died. The group went on hiatus, got itself a new singer in Oskar Saville (she used to be in Rubygrass), found a replacement for Buck, and is busy prepping new material. A greatest-hits CD is also due in the fall. In the meantime, the reinvigorated Maniacs are on the road, playing new tunes along with many of their old favorites. One of their initial performances is in Akron, as part of the Lock 3 Live! concert series. Kinks are sure to be worked out onstage, but the band's resurrection should result in some jubilant noise. 10,000 Maniacs are at Lock 3 Park (off Main Street in downtown Akron) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 330-945-9400 . -- Michael Gallucci
Meet the Trippers
A Lakewood quartet aims to fill your void.
There's no mistaking the Trippers -- just look at their last names. Timmy Tripper, an English teacher by day, leads the Lakewood-based quartet, whose original songs are dominated by '60s-flavored power-pop riffs married to Jimmy Eat Worldly lyrics. He's backed by guitarist Johnny Tripper (a social studies teacher), bassist Billy Tripper, and drummer Bongo Tripper (a science teacher). "No one plays straight-ahead, good-time rock [anymore]," Timmy says. "We've come to fill that void." The Trippers, with Francii and Metaphysical Zoo, play at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Phantasy Nite Club, 11802 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Tickets are $5 to $8; call 216-228-6300. -- Cris Glaser
Wakefield's debut, American Made, is pretty much what you'd expect from kids raised in suburban Maryland: fast, loud, and bratty pop-punk fueled by youthful enthusiasm. It sounds like something Green Day or Blink-182 would make, if they actually were just out of high school, instead of merely playing the part. Wakefield is at the Odeon (1295 Old River Road) at 7:30 tonight with Reel Big Fish. Tickets are $16; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci