Binghamton University’s first mainstage musical of the year will bring audiences a taste of Ireland in “A Man of No Importance.”
With music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, “A Man of No Importance” follows Dublin bus driver Alfie Byrne in 1960s Ireland as he tries to put on a production of Oscar Wilde’s tragic play “Salome” with an amateur acting group at his local church.
Tommy Iafrate, director of the musical and an assistant professor of theatre at BU, said the production is a lesser-known show from famous writers, but the characters still have a lot of heart and meaning behind them.
“Within the show, there are people trying to make theatre to the best of their abilities, but that isn’t necessarily ‘high art,’” Iafrate said. “The characters think of themselves as artists and love the thought they put behind their work, but then when it comes to actually doing their things, it doesn’t all work out. That’s my thoughtful way of saying that they’re untalented, but they have fun playing with it.”
Throughout the musical, Alfie goes through a personal journey of accepting his homosexuality, and he finds himself falling for his best friend, Robbie. Gabriel Pinciotti, a senior majoring in theatre, plays the lead role of Alfie. He said Alfie’s vulnerability in some scenes, such as one where Robbie takes him to a pub and makes him sing without any instruments, signifies the struggles with acceptance Alfie goes through.
“It’s a very vulnerable and exposed scene, and every time we do it, I get so stressed out because [of] the concept of being brought out to a place you aren’t comfortable being, meeting people that you know nothing about and seem to have nothing in common with you and then having to sing for them,” Pinciotti said. “Moments like that terrify me in real life — being forced way out of your comfort zone. I began to realize how useful that was in playing Alfie, that difficulty of being out of your comfort zone is something we both struggle with, and the play ends up being about Alfie going as far out of his comfort zone as he’s ever gone.”
Iafrate said the musical focuses on the search for acceptance and a supportive community.
“It’s really fun to have this silly play production going along with some of the more serious scenes, but it’s about a chosen family of friends and those who love you,” Iafrate said. “There are still people today who feel like outsiders and because of who they are are kicked out of communities and look for a place of support and understanding.”
Pinciotti said he hopes the audience will enjoy the show as much as the actors do.
“I’m really hoping that students get invested in the story in the same way that we all get invested while performing it, because it’s such a heartwarming and emotionally affecting tale, and I want everyone to go on the ride with us,” Pinciotti said. “I also want people to learn about the love that comes from friends, that the people who truly care about you can be some of the most important people in a person’s life.”
“A Man of No Importance” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15, 16, 22 and 23 and at 2 p.m on Nov. 24 in the Watters Theater in the Anderson Center. Tickets are $10 for students, $20 for adults and $16 for seniors.