Visit Us
email us

My Fair Lady opened on Broadway in 1956. There were many musicals before that and since but few have reached the artistic heights that it climbed. It remains one of the best musicals ever written. The Shaw Festival is staging it for the second time and it is a superb production.
The musical is by two of the best creators of Broadway musicals, Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music). It is based on Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion and the film by Gabriel Pascal based on the same play. And if you are looking for pedigree, you need to know that the play is based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor who created a statue from a piece of ivory that was of such extraordinary beauty that he fell in love with it. The goddess Aphrodite gave life to the statue and it became Galatea. Pygmalion married her. You get the connection between the myth and Professor Higgins creating a lady from, as he puts it, a squashed cabbage leaf.
In My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics (the science of language) in Edwardian London. He meets Eliza, a flower seller in Covent Garden with an atrocious Cockney) accent and he undertakes to teach her how to speak proper English so she can pass as a duchess at an embassy ball at Buckingham Palace.
Tom Rooney plays the gruff, pitiless, selfish disciplinarian who puts Eliza through the steps of proper pronunciation. Rooney must also sing several songs that are witty and really recitatives that are utterly delightful. “Why can’t the English learn to speak?” he asks and gives examples of painful accents including the comment that in some places English has completely disappeared. “In America it hasn’t been spoken for years” he comments. Rooney is almost tyrannical in his discipline of Eliza but never without irony as in the rhetorical question: “Why can’t a woman be like a man” meaning himself. A wonderful performance.
The goal is to get Eliza to speak proper English and the pupil is played by Kristi Frank. Her Eliza is no doormat but improving her accent is no small task. Frank sings some of the most famous and beautiful sings of the show from “Wouldn’t it be Loverly” to “I could have danced all night.” Frank has a beautiful, lustrous voice that comes through like rays of sunshine. Aside from her singing she shows her tough side by standing up for herself and of course making hilarious booboos like getting overexcited at the races and shouting to the horse to move its arse.
I had a small problem with some of her lines. There were times when she sounded shrill while usually, she sounded fine. I could not figure out the reason for the shrillness and surmise that it may been the sound system that caused it. Aside from that she was superb in every way.
The third character of note is the gentlemanly Colonel Pickering who contrasts with Higgins in his treatment of Eliza. He is a true gentleman and David Alan Anderson fulfills the role. He doe does not have much singing to do except for the awful “You did it.” I mean the song not his singing.
The most engaging person in the musical is Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle (David Adams.) He is a common dustman who likes to drink and is too poor to have morals. “With a little bit of luck” is a paean to the workers on the bottom of the earning scale and “Get me to the church on time” is an ironic celebration of the common man who has struck it rich, Adams as Doolittle together with the vegetable sellers at Covent Garden gives is a wonderful glimpse of the other world of My Fair Lady. A splendid performance.
We like and praise Patty Jamieson as Mrs. Pearce, Sharry Flett as the professor’s forthright mother and Taurian Teelucksingh who is besotted with Eliza and gets to belt out “On the street where you live.”
My Fair Lady is set in front of St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, the nearby market itself where the awfully-accented merchants are selling vegetables, Prof. Higgins’ upper crust house and a ballroom. In the first scene in front of the church we see a foggy background with a dome of a church rising in the distance. It could be St. Paul’s Cathedral which is nowhere near Covent Garden. It can’t be St. Paul’s Church because it does not have a dome. Higgins’ booklined residence and the scene in the ballroom are fine but not ostentatious. Designer Lorenzo Savoini does a good job with Higgins’ house that includes a walkway of steel girders above across the bookshelves. There is minimal use of furniture and furnishings that are pushed on and off the stage as needed
The costumes especially the dresses designed by Joyce Padua were haute couture for the ladies and fine for the men according to their station in life. Paul Sportelli conducted the orchestra with enthusiasm.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening that the theatre.
My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner (book & lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) continues in repertory until December 22, 2024 at the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

June 20, 2024
Cultural - Κριτική Καλών Τεχνών

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
Posts to Your Inbox

No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.