Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Reason to Stay In or Trek To Brooklyn

I want to thank The Gallery Players--that hidden gem on 14th Street in Park Slope--for introducing me to A Man of No Importance. This is the first New York revival of this lovely musical, which premiered in 2002 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center.

The man of no importance is Alfie Byrne (Charlie Owens), a bus conductor in 1964 Dublin whose passion is the theater. He directs plays in a church hall and his latest is Oscar Wilde's Salome. He lives with his sister Lily (Renee Claire Bergeron), who keeps hoping he'll get married. What she doesn't know, what nobody knows, is that he is gay, and in love with bus driver Robbie Faye (vocal standout Eric Morris). Terrence McNally's book (based on the 1994 film) is about a man coming to terms with his sexuality, but it's also about the power of community and art.

Owens has a quiet grace about him in his touching performance as Alfie, but this is a true ensemble piece in which everybody pulls their weight. Director Hans Friedrichs understands this and uses the space and his cast to great effect. A lot of actors do double duty as part of the band, and the musicians sit all around the stage, engulfing the audience with Stephen Flaherty's Irish-inspired score (lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, musical direction by Julianne Merrill). I was unfamiliar with the music, but I need to buy the cast album immediately so I can listen to those soaring melodies again.

Performances are Thursdays through Sundays through February 19. But I wouldn't wait to get tickets. At the performance I attended there was a waiting list to get in, and it was only the first weekend.
Pictured (l to r): Megan Opalinski, Eric Morris, Spencer Robinson, Charlie Owens, Adam Kee, Eric William Love and Rachel Green in The Gallery Players’ A Man of No Importance. Photo by Bella Muccari.

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