A Massive Cuddle for the Ears and Eyes: A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Photo credit: Earl Christie Photography, earlchristie.com.

Photo credit: Earl Christie Photography, earlchristie.com.

Presented by Bad Habit Productions
Book by Terrance McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the 1994 film, “A Man of No Importance” by Suri Krishnamma
Directed by Daniel Morris
Music directed by Meghan MacFadden

August 6 – 28, 2016
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 1994’s “A Man of No Importance” is a difficult movie to find (legally). My library didn’t have a copy that wasn’t on VHS. Amazon won’t let one buy a copy for less than $95.00. eBay has laserdisc copies but who still uses a laserdisc player? My journey to view the source material before writing a review yielded no positive results. Albert Finney is an excellent actor. It must be a good movie to produce such a lovely musical. Bad Habit’s is a lovely musical. Sad face.   

A Man of No Importance (AMoNI) is an apt play on words of A Woman of No Importance, Oscar Wilde’s show about a scandalous single-mother who confronts the man who abandoned she and their now adult son. The source material satirizes English fancypants society. A Man of No Importance the musical is about Alfie Byrne (Nicholas Magierowski-Howe), a man forced into self-acceptance when he just wants to produce community theatre. He’s a gay man in Dublin directing Wilde’s Salome at a time when homosexuality is against the law. AMoNI shuffles the dialogue between conservative communities, presentation of sexual preference, and gender roles. It’s sad but ends well for all. 

Magierowski-Howe is a gorgeously sympathetic Alfie Byrne. His Alfie is a sensitive man with tastes for the finer things including exalted theatre. He’s also completely innocent of Man’s ability to fear what is different or strange. It was heartbreaking to watch Magierowski-Howe bravely guide Alfie into the hornet’s nest of romantic inquest and fail. Alfie wants to be loved. Magierowski-Howe convinces us that his earnest character should be loved.

Meghan MacFadden leads a skillful chamber orchestra. They were a beautiful accompaniment to the cast’s voices. MacFadden’s interpretations revealed depths of the text. Attendees will discover that they also know how to get down. The 1960’s Catholic church would not approve of Nicole Vander Laan’s fiddle work in “Our Father.”

The ensemble and other leading characters all do excellent work. Yet, Gillian Mackay-Smith’s role as happy go lucky Sully O’Hara is the most pleasantly surprising Easter egg of the production. 

Steve Emanuelson’s did great work as dialect coach. With only one exception, the cast’s diction and accents are consistent. Daniel Morris’ set is brown and woodsy. A church basement and unassuming township in one.       

Bad Habit’s AMoNI is a splendid chamber musical. It boasts a talented cast and crew. The music and lyrics are so lovely as to find immediate homes in the musical theatre repertoire lexicon. Rather than conclude with the normal blather summarizing the show, I’d like to say this: coming out, in any way, is entirely up to the LGBTQIA+ identifying person exiting the closet. No one should be pressured to come out if it isn’t safe, if it isn’t what a person wants, if it will create harm. Alfie Byrne didn’t have much choice. It’s 2016 and we do have a choice. Please be safe for you are fragile, necessary people. Please love each other. There are communities that will accept you, who ever you are, as you are. Be well.

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