BEST SURPRISE HIT OF THE THEATER SEASON Phoenix 2006 - Desert Stages Theatre's A Man of No Importance
There were so many reasons Desert Stages Theatre's production of A Man of No Importance shouldn't have worked. There was the cramped quarters of the company's Actor's Cafe space, into which this odd musical was squeezed. There was the mostly amateur cast, an unusual, time-bending script, and the curse that seems to blight most all stage musicals based on little-known films (in this case, the 1994 Albert Finney movie of the same name). All these should've-failed reasons are what made this production's success all the more notable. Firm direction from Jim Carmody and a better-than-average supporting cast helped, but the main reason this production soared where it might have faltered was Dominic Kidwell's lead performance as Alfie. Kidwell kept his character's complex elements ? a stubborn determination to bring Oscar Wilde's work to Dublin; a frail gentility; a quick anger ? in fine balance. When the story turned dark, Kidwell maintained Alfie's sweet, hopeful demeanor in song and in action. His shaded performance elevated what might have been a near miss into a superb production, one that Wilde himself probably would have loved.