“A Man of No Importance” Showcases Important Truths

A Man of No Importance, set in early 1960s Dublin, tells the story of Alfie Byrne, a bus conductor with a poet’s heart who becomes friends with his daily bus passengers as he dispenses tickets and Oscar Wilde’s poetry. The musical is based on the 1994 film of the same name featuring Albert Finney. This entertaining play combines drama and comedy within a musical, and the Irish brogue pronunciation of words like booooook are endearing.

As the story, which is based on Oscar Wilde’s own life, unfolds, Alfie keeps secrets from everyone except his imaginary friend Oscar Wilde. When he attempts to shake things up and stage a production of Wilde’s Salome, the church authorities shut down the production. Throughout this process, truths come out and Alfie discovers that “you just have to love who you love.”

Jennie Gray Connard and Barron Henzel
Jennie Gray Connard, who plays Lily and Barron Henzel, who plays Alfie share a moment. Photo Ken Jacques
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Barron Henzel seemed perfectly cast as the main character Alfie, who has a heart for theatre and leads the St. Imelda’s Players. Henzel has worn many hats at Coronado Playhouse since the late 1990s and excels in this role.

Jennie Gray Connard, who played Lily Byrne, was my absolute favorite character. She is an actor, director and choreographer who has been working in San Diego theatres since childhood. Her portrayal as Alfie’s spinster sister, who had put her life on hold, was both nostalgic and comedic.

For Wilde fans, this is a must see, and also for those who want to learn about this legendary writer. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, aka Oscar Wilde, celebrated poet and playwright, one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s is the behind-the-scenes driving force for this riveting coming-to-terms play.

Cast of “Man of No Importance” rides the bus. Photo Ken Jacques

The bus song was cleverly choreographed, as the passengers mimed down the street looking out the imaginary windows. The small but mighty live orchestra took me back to my flute playing days, adding intensity and drama to the play. The songs are memorable and will leave you humming long after you leave the show.

We were greeted warmly by Janis and Pam who showed us to our table. The small atmosphere of this venue gives you that comfortable homey feeling. For this amazing production, the Coronado Playhouse is partnering with the Coronado Public Library and attendees are encouraged to bring a book to the performance to donate. Join the Coronado Playhouse and Coronado Public Library as they host a free screening of the original 1994 movie of A Man of No Importance on Wednesday, August 8, at 7 p.m. at the Library. A discussion with the director and cast will follow.

The St. Imelda’s Players. Photo by Ken Jacques

A Man of No Importance is playing at Coronado Playhouse through August 26 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $20-$27. Active Duty Military, Student and Senior discounts are available.

For more information, call the Coronado Playhouse’s Box Office at 619-435-4856 or visit https://www.CoronadoPlayhouse.com

Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Book by Terrence McNally
Directed by Manny Bejarano
Musical Direction by Kirk Valles
Choreography by Patrick Mayuyu

 

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Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com