If watching the Colin Firth-Reese Witherspoon version of The Importance of Being Earnest is the closest you’ve gotten to enjoying one of Oscar Wilde’s best works, then this is the summer to right that wrong. A high-definition filmed version of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony-nominated Broadway production will be playing in movie theaters in 35 U.S. cities from June 2 through June 28. As added bonuses, David Hyde Pierce will be hosting a special behind-the-scenes peek of the play and Alfred Molina will appear to discuss the Wilde’s work during an intermission special. Though Brian Bedford’s Tony-nominated performance as Lady Bracknell and David Furr and Santino Fontana’s turns as prowling bachelors Jack and Algernon — you might remember them from April’s hilarious Jersey Shore Gone Wilde web series — are worth the slightly higher-priced movie ticket on their own. (Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as great as the cost of seeing a Broadway show.)
Earnest, however, isn’t the only major work hitting theaters this month, with the New York Philharmonic’s sold-out, star-studded revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company following on June 15 (watch star Neil Patrick Harris tell EW’s Dave Karger all about it). Then, on June 30, the National Theatre’s Cherry Orchard, starring Zoë Wanamaker as Ranyevskaya, will broadcast from London to cinemas worldwide. (The NT has also announced a September airing of One Man, Two Guvnors, which features Gavin and Stacey’s James Corden — a prospect I, for one, am over the moon about.)
The screenings all come on the heels of the packed U.S. broadcasts of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein in March — which begs the question, should more producers be looking to show their plays and musicals in movie theaters? Is this a great way to increase the availability and awareness of great theater (and line some producer pockets)? Would you love to see The Book of Mormon or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying this way? Or does watching a major stage production on the screen dilute the specialness of sitting in a NYC or London theater and enjoying a live show?