Category: A Man of No Importance (1)
There are two things our director, Evan Pappas, has said about A Man of No Importance that have stuck with me throughout the entire rehearsal and performance process. Number one: it’s not so much a musical as it is a “play with music;” and number two: it’s a show with a lot of heart.
A Man of No Importance is, on the surface, an intriguing synthesis of seemingly unrelated ideas: set in Ireland in 1964, the show follows the exploits of Alfie Byrne, a middle-aged bus conductor who aspires to create great art with his somewhat dysfunctional group of friends. Alfie’s love for Oscar Wilde ties in throughout, to both his own personal philosophy and the plays he puts on.
Alfie looks at the title character in Wilde’s Salome as a beautiful princess, and reads poems like “The Harlot’s House” somewhat out of context. And all the while, it just lifts one’s heart to hear it—the beautiful poetry underscored by lilting Irish music.
In doing so, I think the writers challenge us to explore our notions of art—what is art? Do we have to complicate it by analyzing a poem a certain way, or can it be as simple as feeling the words that we hear? Alfie puts it best in the opening scene: “We feel poetry here, in our hearts. That’s better than understanding with our minds.”
The so-called Saint Imelda’s Players are a testament to this same innocence. Each has a distinct, unique character that contributes to a colorful and quite hysterical landscape. But, while they are comedic characters on the surface, there’s a current of sincerity, support, and simple joy that runs underneath. The final scene of the play is what crystallizes who they are for me; come see the show, and you’ll see why.
What to expect when coming to see A Man of No Importance? Expect great beauty—in the story and the poetry, in what you see and what you hear. Expect to be transported to a foreign land full of color and wit. And, most importantly: expect to be thoroughly entertained, and thoroughly moved.
Kelly Karcher is an MSU undergraduate in her fourth year of the B.F.A. Musical Theatre program. In addition to A Man of No Importance, she has performed in several productions at MSU and will serve as dramaturg for MSU’s Fall ‘09 production of As You Like It.