Bay Theatre to stage second musical

`A Man of No Importance' is set in Dublin of 1960s and based on Albert Finney movie

Theater Preview

December 01, 2006|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun

Bay Theatre Company opens A Man of No Importance today, the second musical in the troupe's four-year history.

The reasons, said company co-founder and artistic director Lucinda Merry-Browne: The cost is significantly higher than the typical show's budget of $20,000 to $30,000, and the 11-member cast is as big as the stage can comfortably accommodate. However, this show was irresistible.

"This is a beautiful, uplifting show celebrating love in all forms with 24 lilting musical numbers brought to life by music director Anita O'Connor and choreographer Jen Kohlhafer," Merry-Browne said.

The 2002 musical by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty seems a good choice judging by the positive attitude of the actors attending a recent rehearsal.

Making their Bay Theatre debuts are local favorites Judson Davis and Debbie Barber-Eaton, who contributed much to the success of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's recent 40th season.

It seems a sure bet that Davis will excel in the pivotal role of Alfie's co-worker Robbie, as will Barber-Eaton as one of the St. Imelda's Players.

Set in 1960s Dublin, A Man of No Importance is based on a 1994 Albert Finney movie of the same title about a gentle and shy bus driver, Alfie Byrne, who reads poetry to his passengers to brighten their lives and his own.

A passionate admirer of Oscar Wilde, Alfie decides after meeting passenger Adele, a beautiful stranger in town, to cast her as his leading lady in Wilde's masterwork, Salome, which Alfie has dreamed of staging at St. Imelda's Church.

Alfie converts his riders into a hodgepodge theater troupe, and forges ahead over the objections of the town's conservative members who object to his staging Salome in a church.

Bay Theatre's cast includes American University theater professor Karl Kippola as Alfie; Equity actress Gillian Shelly as Alfie's sister, Lily; Kim-Scott Miller as Carney; and Zehra Fazal as Adele. Also featured are Russell Maitland, Kathryn Falcone, Erin Kennedy, Greg Stuart and Joe Thornhill.

At rehearsal, Miller and Shelly generated warmth and believability when singing the song "Books." A quintet of Fazal, Kennedy, Kippola, Barber-Eaton and Stuart were equally impressive in their singing of "Art," which communicated the strong Irish identity that composer Flaherty apparently strove for in the score.

Performances at Bay Theatre in the West Garrett Building, 275 West St. in Annapolis, will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 13, with additional performances offered at 8 p.m. Thursdays starting Dec. 14. After-show discussions with the director and actors are planned for the matinees Dec. 10 and Jan. 7.

Tickets cost $22 for general admission and $17 for students and seniors and can be reserved by phone at 410-268-1333 or online at www.baytheatre.org.

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