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Superb A Man of No Importance in L.A. tonight--Eslgr8's Review

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eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
Superb A Man of No Importance in L.A. tonight--Eslgr8's Review

Los Angeles’ Musical Theatre Guild once again thrilled the audience tonight at Glendale’s Alex Theatre with their best production since last year’s The Wild Party--Aherns and Flaherty’s A Man of No Importance (book by Terrence McNally).

MTG presents concert staged readings of Broadway shows which are rarely performed in full productions (recent examples being Sail Away, No No Nanette, Do Re Mi, and Redhead.) Unlike those considerably older productions, A Man of No Importance is a recent Lincoln Center offering which wasn’t quite big enough to move to Broadway. Its relatively short New York run in no way reflects on its many virtues: a very Irish Aherns/Flaherty score (which includes the showstopping The Streets of Dublin and the heartbreaking Love Who You Love), a lovely McNally book (based on the Albert Finney movie), and a rich variety of colorful characters.

A Man of No Importance tells the story of bus conductor Alphie, who buries his homosexual longings in his love of the theatre (he’s the director of local church productions of Oscar Wilde plays) until he can no longer deny who he loves: Robbie, the handsome and very straight driver of his bus.

Standouts in MTG’s all Equity cast are the very powerful Mary Van Arsdel as Alphie’s middle-aged virginal sister Lily, a fine voiced and handsome Roger Befeler as Robbie, the lovely Maura M. Knowles as Adele, who captures Alphie’s eye as the perfect woman to play Wilde’s Salome, and a very fine Joe Hart in the dual role of Alphie’s nemesis Carney and his idol Oscar Wilde. Everyone in the cast has his or her moment to shine, particularly Carol Kline, Steven Hack, Marsha Kramer, and Eydie Alyson as the quirky members of Alphie’s troupe. There is not a weak link in the cast, which also includes the excellent Eileen Barnett, Kevin McMahon, Paul Keith, Chuck Bergman, Roy Leake, Jr., and Randy Kravis.

But the undisputed star of the show is Reece Holland, who gives an absolutely exquisite performance as Alphie. Holland scarcely glanced at his script as he brought to vivid and poignant life the role originated by Roger Rees in New York. Proud, vulnerable, self-deprecating, loving--in Holland’s skilled hands Alphie is heart-breaking and simply unforgettable. Holland is a superlative actor with a rich and evocative voice.

Credit for this amazingly skilled production (presented per Equity rules after just 25 hours of rehearsals and with script in hand except during songs and dances) must go to the brilliant direction of Nick DeGruccio (who also helmed The Wild Party) and to talented musical director Steven Smith (who led the 7 piece orchestra). Several nice dance numbers were choreographed by Cheryl Baxter. Though there was no set, images projected on the rear scrim made it almost seem as though there were one.

After waiting nearly a year since this production was first announced and having listened to and enjoyed the OCR many times, I was truly thrilled to see it come to life tonight. Its story of one man’s journey to self-acceptance and self-love had me wiping tears from my eyes from start to finish and leaping to my feet at curtain call.

There are two more performances, in Thousand Oaks on February 12 at 3:00 pm and in Long Beach at 7:30 pm on February 27. Though you won’t get a fully staged production, this is a pretty close facsimile of one, and well worth a trip north to Thousand Oaks or south to Long Beach in the coming days.






Musical Theatre Guild

Updated On: 2/7/06 at 03:10 AM
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Sheri
Leading Actor
joined:6/1/03
Leading Actor
joined:
6/1/03
Thanks for your impressions of the show. Roger Befeler is wonderful - I saw him years ago in "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" (which coincidentally also starred Nick) - I didn't know he was in the cast! It's a shame I won't be in LA in time to see it (in fact, the weekend that I'm there is between the two shows!) re: Superb A Man of No Importance in L.A. tonight--Eslgr8's Review Thanks again for your review.
Updated On: 2/7/06 at 04:51 AM