Ernest In Love – 1960
ACT I In a London street, valets and tradesmen discuss the apparent reluctance of the upper classes to pay their bills (“Come Raise Your Cup”). Lane, a valet, (Alan Shayne) returns home to his master Jack Worthing (John Irving). Jack, who is known in London as Ernest, is preparing to propose to Gwendolen Fairfax (Leila Martin) and wonders “How Do You Find the Words?” Gwendolen, who is thoroughly prepared to accept, is busy choosing the right costume for the occasion, with the help of her maid Alice (Margaret Harley). At length she decides upon “The Hat.” Jack (or Ernest) calls upon his friend Algernon Moncrieff (Louis Edmonds), who chides him for using the assumed name. Jack explains that his ward Cecily lives with him in the country, and that he has invented a fictitious brother Ernest, whose scrapes require Jack’s frequent presence in London. This is an old story to Algy, who has invented a “Mr. Bunbury” whose chronic illnesses often call Algy out of town. Jack and Algernon take delight in one another’s deceptions. Gwendolen and her mother, Lady Bracknell (Sara Seegar) arrive, and Jack (or Ernest) seizes the opportunity to propose (“Perfection”). Lady Bracknell, “a monster without being a myth,” opposes the match and insists upon an interview with Ernest (or Jack). She discovers that he has no parents, having been found in a handbag. Aghast, Lady Bracknell proclaims that “A Handbag Is Not a Proper Mother.” Before she can drag Gwendolen away, Jack tells Gwendolen where to write him (Ernest) in the country, while the eavesdropping Algernon copies down the address. ACT II At the country estate, Cecily (Gerriane Raphael) is studying with her governess, Miss Prism (Lucy Landau). Algy arrives, announcing himself as Ernest Worthing. He at once falls in love with Cecily, who is delighted to meet what she thinks is “A Wicked Man.” At the same time, Miss Prism carries on a highly refined flirtation with Dr. Chasuble (George Hall), the local rector (“Metaphorically Speaking”). Jack turns up and, having already announced the death of his “brother Ernest,” is dismayed to find Algy there posing as Ernest. Jack’s valet Lane finds that Cecily’s maid Effie (Christina Gillespie) is more than agreeable to his advances (“You Can’t Make Love”), while Algy’s romance with Cecily moves steadily forward (“Lost”). Gwendolen arrives in search of Ernest (Jack) and is perfectly enchanted with Cecily (“My Very First Impression”) until Cecily reveals that she is engaged to “Ernest.” When they discover that Cecily is actually engaged to Algy, and Gwendolen to Jack, they form an alliance against both men. Algy takes this calmly, but Jack is thoroughly upset (“The Muffin Song”). Lady Bracknell breaks in on the company and is persuaded to allow her nephew Algy to marry Cecily, but Jack, as Cecily’s guardian, refuses his consent unless Lady Bracknell will agree to his own marriage with Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell is adamant, and the lovers appear to be thwarted, even though they all swear “Eternal Devotion.” Miss Prism arrives on the scene, and is accused by Lady Bracknell of misplacing a baby boy twenty-eight years ago. Miss Prism confesses to her error, and further establishes that the baby was in a handbag. The handbag was, of course, Jack’s “parent,” and he discovers that he is both Lady Bracknell’s nephew and Algy’s older brother. With this, all is resolved, save Jack’s name, for Gwendolen cannot bring herself to marry anyone who is not named Ernest. But Dr. Chasuble remembers that Jack was christened after his father, General Ernest John Moncrieff, and everyone is at last content (Finale).
– from the original liner notes by Miles Krueger
Algernon Moncrieff: Louis Edmonds Jack Worthing: John Irving Gwendolen Fairfax: Leila Martin Alice: Margaret Harley Lady Bracknell: Sara Seegar Cecily : Gerriane Raphael Miss Prism: Lucy Landau Dr. Chasuble: George Hall Effie: Christina Gillespie Music by Lee Pockriss Lyrics and Book by Anne Croswell Musical Direction by Liza Redfield Arranged and Orchestrated by Gershon Kingsley Production directed by Harold Stone