Pat Launer, Center Stage
“MY FAIR LADY” – The Welk Resort Theatre
It’s a classic by any definition: brilliant, timeless and definitive.
“My Fair Lady” is musical theater perfection, with a sterling, provocative story, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” which was in turn adapted from Ovid’s mythology. And it boasts a spectacular score by that dazzling duo, Lerner and Lowe.
The 1956 masterwork can, however, be a bit long for modern tastes; several local productions have lingered three hours. But at the Welk Resort Theatre, under the expert direction of Kathy Brombacher, it clocks in at a fleet 2½ hours. The only song omitted, though it’s listed and mis-named in the program, is the cringe-inducing misogynist rant, “A Hymn to Him,” which posits the annoying question, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Lerner’s lyrics are eminently clever, but he displays his genius in many other songs. Also, Shaw was a major supporter of women’s suffrage, and Brombacher gives a charming nod to that in her production.
Henry Higgins, you may remember, is the arrogant, pedantic English phonetician who bets his buddy that, given six months, he can turn a grimy Cockney flower-seller into a duchess, who can pass in high society. He’ll teach her manners, along with upgrading her vowels and practicing inane utterances like “The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plain.” And by George, she gets it.
In this incarnation, Higgins is more petulant than pompous, but Lance Arthur Smith gives him a broader range of emotion than is typical. Shaina Knox is a superbly feisty Eliza Doolittle, making a stunning class transition from to street-talk to upper crust. The vocal power of the 16-member cast is strong, though the band sounds a little tinny.
Orlando Alexander’s delightful choreography is amusing and inventive. Randall Hickman offers added humor with his robust portrayal of Eliza’s father, that hard-drinking, amoral moralizer, Alfred P. Doolittle.
The rented costumes look wonderful, though the well-lit sets are variable. Most of all, the nonstop effervescence makes the show seem both fresh and ageless.
“My Fair Lady” continues through April 2, at the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido.
Aired: 1/11/2017 9:01:00 AM
Copyright © 2017 Pat Launer
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