Monday, March 10, 2008

Ha'Penny Bridge Cast Finding New Jobs

Last month, the cancellation of The Ha'Penny Bridge by producer Garrett McGuckian meant that thirty-six (36) Canadians were out of work.

Kyle Blair was one of them.

But Blair has since found work, acting in A Man of No Importance (2008), which runs until March 22 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs.

Richard Ouzounian gave the production three out of four stars, and had this to say:

"Considering the weekend's weather, we should all be ready for a warm-hearted show like A Man of No Importance, which opened Friday at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

"This gentle musical tells the story of Alfie Byrne, a bus conductor in 1964 Dublin. He's well into middle age and lives alone with his spinster sister, finding his only excitement in the local amateur theatre group.

"But Alfie is also deeply in the closet, attracted to Robbie, the virile young bus driver he works with each day. This 'love that dares not speak its name' remains well hidden until Alfie starts directing Salome by Oscar Wilde and then his life falls apart on every front.

"It's a sentimental story, in both the good and the bad senses of the word, with Terrence McNally's book wavering between bitter wit and sticky pathos, needing a deft hand to steer through the narrows between the two.

"Though she has picked a fine cast and staged them with clever invention, director Lezlie Wade doesn't quite pull off the balancing act.

"The funny scenes lack an underlying sadness and the heart-tugging moments are missing the dash of humour that would make them sting even more.

"Things work better in the musical numbers thanks to the score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, as well as to the four-piece band led by Reza Jacobs that plays it with just the right Irish tang.

"Douglas E. Hughes is a magnificent Alfie and reason enough to go see this production. His craggy face houses the saddest of eyes and the most hopeful of smiles. The combination is devastating.

"Kyle Blair, as Robbie, the unknowing object of Alfie's affections, is bright, handsome and vocally skilled, but just a bit too suave to be the source of animal energy that Alfie's life is lacking."

J. Kelly Nestruck at the Globe and Mail was less impressed with the "sweetness and delicateness" of the show, but did appreciate that "Kyle Blair gets one of few brassy numbers in The Streets of Dublin and blasts some energy into the otherwise uptight show."

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