The Interview: Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley On Their New Virtual Production of The Importance of Being Earnest
Interview conducted by frontmezzjunkies
We adore The Skivvies. What’s not to love?
The musical duo, comprised of Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, has made a name for themselves on stages across the country. Blending pop music and show tunes, all while stripped down to the bare essentials, they’ve delighted audiences for years.
This past Holiday season, The Laguna Playhouse commissioned them to perform and record a radio play version of It’s A Wonderful Life. In honor of St Patrick’s Day, the pair are set to unveil yet another collaboration with the California-based theater: The Importance of Being Earnest. Joined by stage veteran Nathan Lee Graham as Lady Bracknell, and with an adaptation by playwright/actor Michael Raver (who also serves as director), the piece will be available March 8-21.
How did the opportunity to do The Importance Of Being Earnest come to you?
LAUREN MOLINA: The Skivvies have a wonderful relationship with the Laguna Playhouse. Since the pandemic, they’ve been reaching out to us to see what kind of content we’d be interested in making virtually for them. They wanted something theatrical to tie in for St. Patrick’s Day.
NICK CEARLEY: After many ideas being bounced around, we settled on wanting to honor Oscar Wilde being an Irish playwright that we all collectively adored. We all love this play and thought it would suit our comic sensibilities and style best.
Is this your first time doing Wilde?
LM: I have had the pleasure of playing the role of Gwendolen in the musical Earnest In Love which takes dialogue from the play but has added musical numbers. It is extra fun and the material lends itself to musical comedy. I also worked on an incredible adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Michael Raver where I played multiple characters, and the cello.
NC: I have never done a Wilde play proper. I have read most of them and did a new musical workshop of an adaptation of Dorian by Thomas Hodges a few years back which kicked off my desire to want to familiarize myself with his works and his personal life as well.
What is it about his work that speaks to you?
LM: I love his biting wit and double entendre. It never gets old. I also love that he can be so dark, in contrast to his lightness. He brilliantly weaves his own life into his work, subtly or not so subtly.
NC: I love his style! His innuendos! His flair for the fabulous and flamboyance and not backing away from it, especially for the time period he was writing. And then, of course, with what was going on in his personal life at the time his plays were being written, specifically with Earnest actually, is absolutely fascinating to me. I feel he was so ahead of his time with his commentaries on what he chose to write about as well as how he lived his life at this moment in time. Lauren and I both read Nicholas Frankel’s forward to the annotated adaptation of Earnest, it was so deeply eye opening to references in his own life and how they were sprinkled throughout the play.
The Skivvies musical performances have constituted most of your work. Is performing plays something audiences can expect to see more of from you?
LM: We both love performing in plays. My career mostly consists of performing in musicals, so anytime I can dive into delicious text like Wilde or any of the great playwrights is a real delight. I hope to do more plays and musicals as a duo. Nick and I have been cast opposite each other in the musical The Rocky Horror Show as Brad and Janet, as Lucy and Linus in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and in the Off-Broadway romp Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man.
NC: We are theatrical actors first and foremost. It is always a joy when we get to work together on a play and not necessarily in creating something musically. Separately, I have done more productions of plays regionally and in NY than musicals, which I like doing very much. We both have very separate theatrical resumes and its always fun to blend the worlds whenever we get the opportunity. Any opportunity where the Skivvies gets to put their signature on something is always a thrill.
How do you choose your collaborators?
LM: We often play with our friends, former castmates, and even have people reach out and ask to get involved. When we reach out to new people to collaborate it’s because we want to work with them and create together. We are attracted to open minded, funny people with free-spirited energy and great musicality.
NC: For me, it’s highly dependent on the energy being cut from a similar cloth as myself. You can tell with artists, like in any relationship, if it’s a fit or if it isn’t. I have always said, “Skivvies is a state of mind.” It’s a mixture of similar sensibilities.
How have you been keeping your sanity during the pandemic?
LM: It’s really been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last year. I give myself permission to rest when needed. I love to get outside and go for hikes or ride my bike. I also have been creative, making and recording music, The Skivvies recorded their first album with The Rocky Horror Skivvies Show Album. I also recorded another EP with my formerly-active band, The Booklights, which will be out next month. Also, having a partner and two cats around has been a saving grace. I would not do well if I was all by myself all this time.
NC: Creating whenever possible and trying to find new and original ways to do so. I had to escape from NY for a bit because I couldn’t take staring at the same walls any more. That helped a lot. There’s only so much you can do safely in these times. Hanging on to the hope I see right now of everyone having a vaccine by summer has given me so much optimism after coming out of such a dark four years.
If you could sum the Skivvies up in one word, it would be…