MINT HILL – Amanda Bledsoe has always loved “The Importance of Being Earnest.” So, choosing the play for her new theater company’s first production was a no-brainer.
Bledsoe is the founder and owner of The Black and White Theatre Company, based out of Spotlight Performing Arts Academy in Mint Hill. The company will present its first-ever show, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Thursday to Sunday, May 1 to 4, with show times at 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $6 at the door, and all performances will take place at Spotlight Performing Arts Academy, 7714 Matthews-Mint Hill Road.
Bledsoe, who majored in theater at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and will play the role of Cecily in the production, considers the show a classic that’s still relevant today. The play is a comedy about two friends who use the same pseudonym, “Ernest,” causing hilarious confusion for those around them.
“It’s always been one of my favorite shows. So, since it’s the first show our company’s done, I thought it would be a good one to start off with,” Bledsoe said.
The company also wanted to bring the show to Mint Hill because members felt it was one the community could relate to, as the play is set in a more rural community outside of a city.
“I think we chose it because a small town like Mint Hill can relate to it,” Bledsoe said. “… People picture us as this little, tiny, nothing-happens town, but that’s not the case. People want the same adventure and excitement like people of cities, and there is plenty to do and plenty of ways to have fun.”
The cast of eight consists of members of The Black and White Theatre Company, all in their 20s, along with one costumer and one stage manager. The actors have rehearsed together since late January, and though it’s been a challenge building the company from the ground up, show director Amy Scheide said everyone has really stepped up to the plate and given their all to the production.
“This art form is all collaboration, and so whether you’re eager to collaborate as a star or someone who moves a piece of furniture around, you’re building something solid,” Scheide said.
One of the things that has strengthened the show, Scheide said, is the relationships between the performers. Most of the actors went to high school and/or college together, and their strong friendships bleed through into their acting performances, she said.
“All of these people in this show, at some point or another, have been mine and Amanda’s friends … so, it’s like we brought together all of the people that we loved to go meet each other finally and do something fun together,” Scheide said. “It’s been a delight to watch them learn about each other and how to play off each other and what makes each other tick.”
Andrew Pippin, who plays Jack Worthing in the show, said one of the strongest things about the production is the play itself – including the comedy and “witty” dialogue.
“I read the play in high school. It’s very witty, very dialogue-based, and that’s the kind of comedy that I appreciate,” Pippin said.
Bledsoe said audience members can expect to laugh and have a good time. But beyond the laughter and entertainment, she said, is a social commentary that reflects The Black and White Theatre Company’s motto and core belief – “see the gray in every moment,” rather than simply thinking in black and white.
“I think (the play) challenges people to think about some social norms,” she said. “One thing we make sure our company always does is to challenge the viewer to think about how they relate to things … I think this show has come a long ways; it’s gotten very funny, and I’m really proud of it.”
Find more information about the show and The Black and White Theatre Company at www.theblack andwhitetheatrecompany.com, or find the company on Facebook.