Review Round Up: A Man of No Importance, Classic Stage Company

We take a look at what critics have been saying about this Off-Broadway revival of this musical, starring Jim Parsons.

(c) Julieta Cervantes “Doyle is deft at creating a sense of community amongst his acting ensembles. He frequently scales down larger productions to focus on the essentials and, in doing so, keeps everyone on stage, observing the proceedings. This constant presence creates a supportive, familial feel, which works especially well when it concerns the troupe of amateur actors in Alfie Byrne’s company.”

NY Times: “it’s an advantage that Parsons, at 49, is younger by nearly a decade than both Roger Rees, who played Alfie in 2002, and Albert Finney, who originated the role in the 1994 film on which the musical is based. With his confident voice, unlined face and television polish, he never seems hopeless or, viewed from our time, too old for a new start. And after 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” he knows not only what marks to hit but exactly how to hit them.”

Theatre “The musical also benefits from the direction of John Doyle, who stepped down as artistic director of Classic Stage in June, and leaves the company with this wonderful parting gift. His signature actor-musician style works particularly well in a story set around a community theater (in which there’s always at least one dude with an acoustic guitar). Actors move gracefully through the space, their instruments playing important roles (a drum becomes Robbie’s steering wheel, and an accordion creates the heavy breathing of a particularly tense moment). Inventiveness abounds, with a muslin curtain becoming a bedsheet and the stairs around the theater expanding the playing space.”

New York Theatre Guide: **** “Parsons convincingly inhabits Alfie’s earnestness and diffidence, if not his Irish accent. Alfie’s intimate little story of self-discovery isn’t quite big enough for all its characters, but each member of the ensemble shines in even the most underwritten parts. Shereen Ahmed is marvelous as the reticent leading lady Adele, and Mary Beth Peil’s few lines as Mrs. Grace are some of the show’s funniest.” “The satisfactions of this revival of A Man of No Importance are all in that smaller-scale fiddling: both literally, in the sense of a bit of violin-playing onstage, and in a cast of supporting performances all crafted with delicacy.” “The disconnect between the supporting cast and the musical’s lead is unfortunate and surprising. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether that disconnect is the fault of director John Doyle or the fault of Mr. Parsons. The reality is the disconnect exists and the production suffers as a result.” “Alfie Byrne, the story’s central Oscar Wilde enthusiast, is played by Jim Parsons, with touching realism and a nice, lower-case singing voice, but often gets lost in his own story. Events float through Doyle’s universe without leaving much of a mark, a problem made worse by the choice to trim down the material to one act. As Byrne’s production of Wilde’s Salome rises and falls due to the interventions of the church which houses his troupe, its personal and larger implications don’t land, but merely sputter.” *** “A Man of No Importance is an example, at best a mildly pleasant, mildly moving pastime well below the standards Flaherty, Ahrens, and McNally set for themselves (with Drabinsky prodding?).”

A Man of No Importance continues to play at the Classic Stage Company until the 18th December.

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