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The Importance of Seeing Geoffrey Rush and Toby Schmitz Live On Stage

18.12.2011

If you’ve ever dreamed of witnessing Geoffrey Rush swan around in a rich tapestry of silk, sequins, feathers and ornamental precious stones, then get yourself a ticket to the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Geoffrey Rush in the MTC's production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (photos: http://www.mtc.com.au/)

I couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of Geoffrey Rush live, as he’s one of my favourite actors. In fact I’ll quite happily see any film with Geoffrey Rush in it, even without knowing a thing about the story. Why? Because he’s so damn awesome.

However.

Geoffrey wasn’t the only reason I was desperate to see this production. Ever since I cried tears of laughter throughout Bell Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing earlier this year, I’ve had a teeny tiny crush on Toby Schmitz.

Toby Schmitz (left) with Matthew Walker in Bell Shakespeare's 2011 production of 'Much Ado About Nothing' (image: http://www.abc.net.au)

In Much Ado, Toby played Benedick, that witty, slightly obnoxious, unabashed yet ultimately adorable character whose friends dupe him into believing that his equally witty rival, Beatrice, is head-over-heels in love with him (and vice versa). Not only is this one of my favourite Shakespearean plays, but Toby displayed a sense of comedic timing that in this instance completely outshone his fellow actors. Ten minutes into the play, I realised that I was witnessing a comedic genius.

Toby made himself a lifelong fan that night. So, aside from the Geoffrey Rush factor and the wonderful writings of Oscar Wilde, Toby was the reason I had to get tickets to The Importance of Being Earnest.

Nothing short of death was going to prevent me from attending the theatre, even a dislocated kneecap, the circumstances of which you can read about here. (It took a while for me to bend my knee enough so that I could sit down in my seat. I had to occupy half of my theatre partner’s leg room because I couldn’t bend my leg enough to fit it into my own leg space – thanks for putting up with that inconvenience, Kristel.)

Toby was one of the first onstage, which was fine by me. He was just as wonderful as I expected. Then along came Geoffrey Rush, who made an extravagant entrance in a red dress, but it took me a good 4 minutes to get past picturing him in a pirate costume…

Geoffrey Rush in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'

…and accept him as a woman.

Geoffrey Rush as Lady Bracknell

Aside from this slight imagination inconvenience, the show was spectacularly funny.

The set was a giant pop-up book, the pages of which were turned by an infinitely hilarious pair of servants (both played by Bob Hornery).

The set of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'

The set of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'

The costumes were colour coordinated depending on who was courting whom and which name they were currently using.

Toby Schmitz (as Jack 'Earnest' Worthing) and Christie Whelan (as Gwendolen) in 'The Importance of Being Earnest'

And even when Geoffrey Rush lost an earring (“I didn’t need that, anyway”), it only added to the hilarity.

All seats for this show are sold out, but a limited number of standing room tickets go on sale at 12pm each day for that evening’s performance. If you can deal with hanging over a balcony to one side of the stage, then I would highly recommend going. Just be careful you don’t fall off the edge laughing.

For information on the MTC’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, visit their website.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 20.12.2011 10:25 PM

    Rush is an “actor’s actor”, isn’t he? Glad to hear you’ve learned to appreciate the theatre; there aren’t enough people that do.

  2. 21.12.2011 9:24 AM

    Hello, Hook.

    Yes, Rush is definitely worth appreciating. As is Toby Schmitz – he’s deserving of the accolades as well, and hopefully he gets the recognition soon.

    Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

    Thea.

  3. 04.01.2013 7:50 PM

    Ohhhh I’ve had a major crush on Toby Schmitz for about 3 years now. If I’d known he was in this play I would definitely gone to see it. He is such a great actor as well as being so good looking. And his voice. So distinctive.

    • 04.01.2013 8:48 PM

      Did you see him in Much Ado? He was just…wow. The most incredible actor, and perfect sense of comedic timing.

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