”An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be,” says a character in Oscar Wilde’s Victorian farce, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’

And just hours before the opening-night performance of the play at the Two River Theater in Red Bank Friday night, one of the theater’s employees was surprised by a real-life marriage proposal on the stage. (Photos by Yurik Lozano. Click to enlarge)

Jenna Rocca and Louis Castano in the garden setting on the TRT stage. 

Jenna Rocca, the theater’s associate marketing director, was dispatched by managing director Michael Hurst on a false pretext Friday afternoon to the theater’s main stage, which was strangely, to her mind, set up not for the opening scene, but the dreamlike garden set designed by Charlie Corcoran used later in the play.

There, she was surprised to be met by her boyfriend of three years, Louis Castano, who got down on one knee and proposed marriage while the house music system played ‘I Choose You‘ by Sara Bareilles and co-workers looked on.

Castano’s a math teacher by day and a drummer by night; he and Rocca, who’ve been dating almost four years, share a love of theater and the arts. “I knew I had the right one when I kept dragging him to shows and he wasn’t complaining,” said Rocca, who told redbankgreen she was “completely” surprised by the proposal, which she accepted.

The setting could not have been more perfect, she said. “It means everything, because theater has been my life and my passion,” she said. “It’s a real dream come true.”

The couple expect to tie the knot in about a year; before then, Rocca said, she hopes to hold her bridal shower in the theater lobby.