Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
My Fair Lady
Also see John's review of Doubt
My Fair Lady features book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Adapted from the play Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw, published in 1916, and the 1938 motion picture by Gabriel Pascal, it is the story of Henry Higgins, a wealthy Professor of Phonetics, who bets friend and fellow linguist Colonel Pickering that he can train anyone to speak so properly that they could pass as royalty. He chooses as his subject Eliza Doolittle, a poor flower seller with a strong Cockney accent. He takes her in and begins her complete transformation. Along the way, Eliza's transformation inspires a transformation of his own in the cool heart of confirmed bachelor Henry Higgins.
This beautiful and elegant production is truly remarkable. The sets are finely wrought, the orchestra is excellent, and the costuming is stunningly detailed - particularly in the "Ascot Gavotte" scene. The beauty of the gown for the Embassy Ball, when combined with the ballerina-like carriage of Lisa O'Hare as Eliza, elicit a hushed gasp from the audience when she enters the scene.
Lisa O'Hare is a wonderful Eliza, and her dance training shines surprisingly in the ballroom scene. Her only flaw is some minor inconsistencies in her post-transformation accent. Christopher Cazenove is actually warmer than most Professor Higgins, and his diction is clear and crisp. Higgins' sidekick Colonel Pickering is played with humor and style by Walter Charles.
The cast is graced with the presence of veteran actress Sally Ann Howes as Mrs. Higgins. Many may remember her as Truly Scrumptious in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and as the first actress to play Eliza Doolittle following Julie Andrews. Tim Jerome gives a delightfully scene-stealing performance as Alfred P. Doolittle. He has all the crusty and colorful comic ability of an old vaudevillian, which makes this performance a real gem. Justin Bohon as Freddy Eynsford-Hill seems terribly young, and a tad stilted in his accent, amidst this cast of seasoned performers. Still, he delivers a crowd pleasing "On The Street Where You Live."
The choreography is engaging and fresh while still supplying the visuals one has come to expect in different parts of the show. "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" has the humorous addition of dancers hoofing on trash can lids strapped to their feet, reminding one of Stomp, which did, after all, originate in London. The stylized synchronized waltzing in the Embassy scene is a real treat as well. The only problem in the production is the lighting, which was inappropriately dark in the center of the stage for the entire show. This left shadows and darkness in numbers that made it difficult to see the choreography, costumes and props - let alone facial expressions. There seemed to be some attempt at compensation by overuse of follow spots in parts of the show. One can only hope this was a temporary situation, as this is far too lovely a show not to see every last inch of it.
The original production of My Fair Lady opened on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 15, 1956 starring Julie Andrews. There it ran for 2,717 performances, making it the longest running musical of its day. It received eight 1956 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It originally opened in London in 1958, and was later made into a film starring Audrey Hepburn in 1964, for which it received eight Academy Awards.
This revival production of My Fair Lady opened in London's West End at the Lyttelton Theatre in March of 2001. It transferred to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in July of the same year, where it ran for two and a half years, receiving five Laurence Olivier Awards and The Hilton Award for Outstanding Musical Production. The tour of My Fair Lady comes to the United States directly from its West End run, and subsequent U.K. tour, which began in the fall of 2005. The Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre of Great Britain Production of My Fair Lady is produced by NETworks Presentations, David Ian for Live Nations, and Cameron Mackintosh. For more information, visit www.myfairladythemusical.com.
Stanford Broadway Across America - South Florida is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association. The Florida Theatrical Association is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over 5 million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com.
My Fair Lady appeared December 18 - 23, 2007 at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House in the Carnival Center For The Performing Arts in Miami, FL. For information on the many diverse offering of the Carnival Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or visit them at www.carnivalcenter.org.
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.