In his Road Theatre debut, Sean Wing relishes playing a leading role that gives him a chance to bring to life a character mentioned—but who never appears—in Oscar Wilde's classic drawing room farce The Importance of Being Earnest. In addition, Wing enjoys the challenges of elucidating the rich array of literary references in Tom Jacobson's play, a love letter to classic theatre. The debuting work is Bunbury: A Serious Play for Trivial People, an erudite and amusing story set in a dimension where fictional characters ranging from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to Albee's George and Martha have opportunities to set their mistakes straight with a little help from Wing's titular character.
The actor hails from Las Vegas, grew up in Park City, and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. Following graduation, his acting career was put on hold when he joined a touring band called Fource, which he says was "like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys." When Sony merged with BMG, many layoffs occurred, and the band's recording contract ended. He recalls, "I was, of course, saddened. We had been making a lot of money, and the traveling and the work were wonderful. But I have to admit I was happy to get back to my acting roots." He returned to L.A. in 2002, where he has done film work and made television appearances (Touched By an Angel) and a few theatre appearances, such as in a national tour of A Stoop on Orchard Street and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Secret Rose Theatre.
There's a lot of musical theatre on Wing's résumé. Bunbury gives him a chance to sink his teeth into a meaty role in a nonmusical play steeped in a classic style. He says he spent much time researching all of the plays incorporated into Jacobson's script. "My character had to known all of these works like the back of his hand," Wing says. "It's not just a joke here and there. I really needed to have a profound understanding of all of this. The other big challenge was bringing humanity to the part. It's written in there, but bringing it out in this absurd farce was a formidable task. The show is very clever and witty, and our job—and mine—was to find the heart in it."
So far, Wing has not pounded the pavement looking for acting jobs. Parts keep coming his way through referrals from friends and colleagues. Judging from his finely nuanced and captivating performance as Bunbury in this Wilde and wooly comedy, one can suppose Wing's track record has much to do with the importance of being earnest.
"Bunbury: A Serious Play for Trivial People" continues at the Road Theatre Company, Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Through Dec. 4. $20. (866) 811-4111.