Superb performances, beautiful staging, splendid costumes and an ebullient live orchestra make for an enviable production of this classic!
BY SANDY STAGGS
Glow Lyric Theatre’s repertory season celebrating the power on women continues with a pristine and polished work from the Golden Age of musicals: My Fair Lady.
A musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Fair Lady boasts an enchanting score by Frederick Loewe and lyrics and book by Alan Jay Lerner and last year was crowned with a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.
In this rags to riches (or street urchin to lady) tale directed by Glow Artistic Director and co-founder Jenna Tamisea Elser, Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Meg Supina) is taken under the tutelage of Professor and phoneticist Henry Higgins (Dave LaPage) via a bet with his comrade Colonel Pickering (the perfect English gentleman played by Paul Noga).
A chance encounter on the streets of London leads the poverty-stricken but morally pure Eliza to climb a rung up the social ladder after an exhaustive transformation of her low-class speech, dress and manners and passing as a Duchess at a grand ball. Eliza has the lofty ambition to improve herself in hope of becoming a sales lady at a flower show instead of the few pence she earns selling flowers on the street.
A sparkling Supina soars in this demanding part in a credible Cockney accent (“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”) that crescendos in Eliza’s infamous unladylike line at the horse race that closes out the stellar first act much to the chagrin of her hosts and the delight of the opening night audience: “Come on Dover, move your blumin’ arse!”
While this tiny spitfire resembles Audrey Hepburn (whose songs were dubbed in the film version), her mighty sparrow singing voice beckons Julie Andrews (the original Broadway version) in tunes such as “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?” and the gleeful “I Could Have Danced All Night,” which I could have listened to literally all night.
LaPage, one of the Upstate’s leading actors, is divine is Professor Higgins. Rigid pronunciation in a Queen’s English accent, LaPage dominates the [proceedings as a pompous, sterile man of privilege.
A content lifelong bachelor who is married to his work ("I’m an Ordinary Man), Higgins doesn’t see Eliza as a woman, or a human really, only as means to an end to prove his superior skills as an educated man and scholar. Constantly criticizing her lack of breeding and grooming with derogatory language and even abusive treatment, it is not until his epiphany near the end of the story, that he realizes he may be in love with his experiment ("I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”).
There are several standouts in ch supporting cast as well such as the magnificent Holly Caprell as Higgins’ servant Mrs. Pearce, who can convey 10 lines of dialogue with a single look of disdain or bemusement.
And with cunning wit and a seedy disposition in "With a Little Bit of Luck” (along with Barry Combs and Shawn Hardee), Tim Brosnan’s Alfred Doolittle wins Worst Father of the Year. Keen on the gin, Alfred ultimately blackmails Higgins and "sells” his daughter for a mere 5 pounds. Disgusting, but a thrilling performance.
Combined with an exuberant live 15-piece orchestra conducted by Music Director Hailey Anthum Hunter, My Fair Lady proves to be one of the best musicals of the year.
Scenic design is by Meg Tominaga, choreography by Jenise Cook and the immaculate costumes by Cole Spivia.