July 11--NEW MILFORD -- It has taken Dr. Leonard Diamond, 83, nine years to get to the point where his original musical comedy, "Earnest or What's In a Name?" will be performed on a regional stage.
The show is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," with the musical style of Gilbert and Sullivan.
It opens in New Milford on Friday.
Diamond, a psychiatrist who has practices in New Milford and New York, has had a tumultuous relationship with the theater. He started writing musicals when he was in college, continued all through medical school and even when he started his psychiatry practice.
He came close to joining the professional theater world when some of his musicals were under option to be picked up by Broadway.
However, as it always seemed to go for Diamond, money could never be raised for his shows and they went mostly unseen.
"There I was with a bunch of music that was pretty good, but not so good of a book, so no one really bought into it," Diamond said.
After seeing a few bad renditions of "The Importance of Being Earnest," and with the encouragement of his wife, Ruth, Diamond began to write his sixth musical.
"Earnest or What's In a Name?" was inspired by what would have happened if Sullivan and Wilde collaborated on writing "The Importance of Being Earnest."
After some initial setbacks, Diamond decided to submit his finished piece to regional theaters. Jane Farnol, executive producer for TheatreWorks, read it, thought it was wonderful and soon after tried to get it produced in New Milford. First they had to wait for an opening in the schedule.
"When Leonard first brought it to me, I thought this would be great, but it never fit in the schedule, but the summer slot finally opened up" said Farnol. "I think the audience will love it. It's got great music."
"Earnest or What's In a Name?" runs Friday and Saturday, plus July 19, 20, 26, 27 and 28, and Aug. 2 and 3. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on July 28.
In 2012, Diamond won the New York Musical Theatre Festival competition for "Earnest or What's In a Name?" The first festival, staged in 2004, featured more than 30 new fully staged full-length musicals and was met with critical and popular acclaim. More than 350 shows have premiered at the festival since then.
Farnol describes the play as a "delightful, charming, upbeat and happy musical." The dialogue is based on Wilde's writings. Farnol said audiences will enjoy knowing its production is Diamond's dream coming true.
Diamond credits Farnol and his wife for helping this musical finally come to life.
"I'm really excited about this and am looking forward to the production, I know it will be great," he said. "Everyone who has worked on it has really liked it, and the best part of all is they enjoyed doing it, which is what I hoped for."
TheatreWorks, New Milford, 5 Brookside Ave., New Milford, July 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28, and Aug. 2, 3, 8 p.m., $23 reserved seating, 860-350-6863, www.theatreworks.us
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