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What could be more convenient for avoiding onerous social obligations than occasionally having a friend who urgently needs help? It’s from this passing idea that Oscar Wilde crafted his final and still most popular comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest.



My Friend Bunbury




In 1964, Gerd Natschinski chose this hit concept as the basis for a new musical. Max Hopp directs this masterpiece of East Germany’s Heiteres Musiktheater (light-hearted music theatre), with all its barbs, in the big tent!Jack and his niece Cecily are completely devoted to charity work. Oh really?

Actually, he’d rather be with his (secret) lover Gwendolen, and she’d rather be pursuing her (secret) vocation on the variety stage. Jack uses a purported visit from his (not quite real) friend Bunbury to excuse himself, so that he can go have a good time with his (actually real) friend Algernon. Cecily also manages (secretly) to get to the stage. When Algernon introduces himself as Bunbury to an enchanting dancer—of course it’s Cecily—without knowing her real identity, the comedy of errors, complete with inheritance quarrels and near catastrophes, begins.

‘My Friend Bunbury was undoubtedly the right musical at the right time’, writes Gerd Natschinski’s biographer about the outstanding success it enjoyed after its premiere at East Berlin’s Metropol Theatre in 1964.

Transported by the composer to the London of the 1920s, the premiere’s audience was thrilled by his catchy melodies and the musical kaleidoscope of the period. Everything was here, from the disciplined rhythms of the tango to the airy tunes of the waltz to the sassiness of the black bottom. Already with its premiere, the Stuttgarter Zeitung (a West German newspaper!) was already praising its effervescence, tempo, and fiery melodies.

Working alongside Kai Tietje, director Max Hopp takes Natschinski’s East German musical and teases out just the right high notes for a thought- and laughter-provoking experience. An exhilarating revue in the big tent!


GOOD TO KNOW

It wasn’t just in East Germany that My Friend Bunbury became a hit of the Sixties and beyond. In West Germany too, the musical was on the playbills of theatres both big and small across the country, delighting audiences from Braunschweig to Ulm and from Gelsenkirchen to Bremerhaven.
Additional information
Gerd NatschinskiMusical in seven acts [1964]Loosely based on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest Text by Helmut Bez and Jürgen Degenhardt
Participating artists
Martina Borroni (Choreographie)
Jean-Christophe Charron (Chöre)
Max Hopp (Inszenierung)
Ursula Kudrna (Kostüme)
Marie Caroline Rössle (Bühnenbild)
Johannes Scherfling (Licht)
Kai Tietje (Musikalische Leitung)
Ramesh Nair (Jack Worthing)
Sophia Euskirchen (Cecily Cardew)
Alexander von Hugo (Algernon Moncrieff)
Eva Mattes (Lady Augusta Bracknell)
Susan Zarrabi (Gwendolen)
Bernd Stempel (Frederick Chasuble)
Christoph Marti (Entertainer)
Chorsolisten der Komischen Oper Berlin (Chor)
Dates
June 2025
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