Pier One season opens with Wilde play

Along with king salmon fishing, the opening of shops on the Spit and school ending, add another sure sign of the start of summer: the first Pier One Theatre play of the season.

On Friday, Homer’s little red theater on the Spit features this year’s opening show, Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband.” The show continues Saturday and Sunday and May 30, 31 and June 1. Pier One has done several productions of Wilde’s well known “The Importance of Being Earnest,” but Pier One artistic director Jennifer Norton said she wanted to do a Wilde play equally witty but more serious.

“This one is a little bit more political,” she said. “It’s about a politician who has skeletons in his closet. He’s been mostly blame free throughout his political career. He did this one foolish thing in his younger days that’s coming back to haunt him.”

First performed in 1893, “An Ideal Husband” takes place at a London dinner party. It concerns Sir Robert Chiltern, a member of the House of Commons, played by Mike Tupper; his wife, Lady Chiltern, played by Adele Person; Sir Robert’s bachelor friend, Lord Arthur Goring, played by Connor Schmidt, and an unwelcome guest, Mrs. Chevely, the ex-fiance of Lord Goring, played by Alison Rambo.

Mrs. Chevely knows a dreadful secret about Sir Robert and how he earned his wealth. She blackmails him into supporting a fraudulent scheme. Meanwhile, Lady Chevely also seeks to win back Lord Goring’s affection.

“It’s about redemption, our imperfections, the folly of youth, the standards our political figures should be held to,” Norton said.

“An Ideal Husband” also presents several new actors to Pier One. Some have previously had small, nonspeaking roles, while for others this marks their Homer stage debut. One actor, Emily Munns, who plays Miss Mabel Chiltern, returns to Pier One 11 years after attending its summer Youth Theatre Camp. The play also features seasoned Pier One actors such as Peter Norton — Jennifer Norton’s father — and Brian Duffy. Laura Norton, Jennifer’s mother, directs the play, and Rachel Friedlander is the assistant director.

Along with “An Ideal Husband,” the first plays of the season are classic plays: Peter Clapham’s “Little Women,” showing in early June, and William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” While Pier One has had several Broadway musicals over the years, this year’s musical production is the Shakespeare, with songs of the era arranged and compiled by Susan Biggs. A small orchestra performs.

“It’s a musical; it’s just a small musical,” Norton said.

The second half of the Pier One season features more contemporary works. In July is Alan Ball’s “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” written in 1993 by the screenwriter who wrote “American Beauty” and created the television series “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood.”

In August, Pier One shows Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and Kieran Lynn’s “Breaking the Ice.”

As in previous years, this summer also includes Youth Theatre productions. In early August is “The Jungle Book” and on June 20 and 21 is a Skills Camp showcase.

Also returning is Johnny B with his “Rhythm of the North” multimedia show on weekdays through the summer and Outrageous Jazz by Karen Strid-Chadwick and Friends on June 22 and 23.

For showtimes and prices, visit www.pieronetheatre.org. Shows are at 7:30 p.m., with tickets $15 general admission, $14 seniors, $13 Raven’s Club, $10 youth and $55 family. Tickets are on sale at the Homer Bookstore and on the Spit at Sea Lion Art & Lodging.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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