THE LADY IS 65, AND JUST AS GRAND AND LOVELY - DO NOT MISS THIS ‘MY FAIR LADY’ REVIVAL
THE HOLIDAY SEASON HAS ARRIVED
IT IS TIME TO RETURN TO PROFESSORS HIGGINS’ LIBRARY
AND SEE THIS BEAUTIFUL SHOW WITH A NEW EDGE
A perfectly “lovely” experience opens the Holiday season here in the Bay Area. The grand revival of MY FAIR LADY is now on stage at the Orpheum Theatre. The classic Lerner and Loewe musical is celebrating its 65th anniversary, Eliza is in town through Nov 28th. This version fresh from the New York Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed production on its North American tour. This is a huge polished production that will sweep you away to ”The Street Where You Live,” and get you to the "wedding on time". Director Bartlett Sher keeps the production traditional with a new take on those pesky Higgins slippers. This sparkling diverse cast has a feminist bent with a refreshing new feel to this iconic musical.
Sher takes some new liberties with the material, yet keeping the classic charm of Shaw’s original theme; his production returns focus to the original "Pygmalion" tale and the themes of respect and equality. The story of a cockney flower girl, Eliza, who learns the proper way to speak English by Professor Henry Higgins. It won six Tonys, setting a Broadway record for a long run and, of course, the memorable film version with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn that won 10 Oscars.
The 1912 fog of London is marvelous in this production of MY FAIR LADY. The sold out opening night crowd was impressed by an awesome talented cast of 33 actors who swept them away with a very elegant set on wheels designed by Michael Yeargan, framed by a superb full orchestra headed by Josh Clayton and John Bell music directors.
Henry Higgins is played by the polished Laird Mackintosh, always the expert in the study of phonetics. Eliza Doolittle is played by accomplished Arab American the gifted Shereen Ahmed. The cast includes Gayton Scott as Mrs. Pearce, Adam Grupper as Alfred P. Doolittle, Kevin Pariseau as Colonel Pickering. The story really takes second place to the memorable songs and their superb staging. These songs include classic songs like “With a Little Bit of Luck”, “The Rain in Spain”, I Could Have Danced All Night”, “Show Me”, and the showstopper “Get Me to the Church on Time”.
Ahmed is delightful as Eliza, who is played with a more “me too” and maybe Shaw did create an early feminist. Her voice soars when she sings “I could have Danced All Night”, and “Show Me”. Her performance is more bold than the original Eliza, with a woman who wants to be an equal, rather than a relationship with Higgins. Ahmed is at her best when Eliza is transformed as a proper lady, she shows off her powerful singing voice in the banner song “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Once this Eliza gets her proper tone, her timing with Henry Higgins is foolproof. Ahmed is a knockout; her sense of joy, an uncommon sweetness and beautiful voice are outstanding.
Mackintosh is a perfectly dapper as the self-centered bully and know it all. His knockout performance is quite amusing throughout, especially in “I’m An Ordinary Man.” His voice is strong and perfect for the bond that grows between Higgins and Eliza. Mackintosh’s machine gun arrogance is harsh but he remains the villain of the story. His singing enforces his super ego as he keeps it all about Higgins.
There are particular delights in the smaller roles. The marvelous Adam Grupper is a show stopper as Eliza’s scoundrel father, Alfred P. Doolittle. His rendition of “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” with amazing London country dance numbers that includes a drag queen, choreographed by Tony honored Christopher Gattelli are gems. The pre march to the wedding celebration number stops the second act of this 3 hour musical.
The handsome smooth tenor, Sam Simahk as Freddy, adds plenty of charm into “On the Street Where You Live,” making his reprise romantic and enduring. The adorable, honorable Leslie Alexander manages to win the audience with some laughs from a frisky stern role as Mrs. Higgins, Henry’s mother. Her performance captures Mrs. Higgins' sharp wit as well as the warmth of her growing affection for Eliza.
The pro Kevin Pariseau as Colonel Pickering, is that type of a supporting actor that provides ballast for the entire evening. Pariseau brings the right amount of charm and care to the role of the sidekick. The royal Gayton Scott as the housekeeper, Mrs Pearce, has the perfect amount of compassion and charm. Her dry wit gets great laughs. Director Sher’s diverse company are all impressive actors who are beautifully realized characters.
Michael Yeargan’s clever set design is on wheels, with cast members easily pushing the set pieces on and off the stage. It was eye candy to see how fast the company would fly in with the different blocks of old London. The revolving set for Higgin’s Edwardian home with a detailed library and front room with doors that the actors walk through to the next set while the set is revolving keeps this LADY moving. The main home becomes one of the characters in this already brilliant cast. Catherine Zuber’s authentic costumes have that old London look and the gowns for Eliza are rich with character and jewels. The Ascot Grove horse race scene sets the tone as a purely costumed set based on some elegant hats and canes. Eliza is gleaming as she sings “The Embassy Waltz” and “You Did It” is graceful and noble in a memorable long, sleek gown.
With changing “me too” ground rules of how women should be treated in film and theatre, it is more a challenge to re-mount classic musicals from the 50’sand 60’s without offending audiences. In spite of these traditional dated themes in MY FAIR LADY. This production’s version of Eliza as a woman who in the end is better than her teacher gives a new edge to this iconic musical. This “LADY” is a celebration worthy of the 65th anniversary and is sure to be the best way to begin your Holiday theatre season. It is time to return to Prof. Higgins’ library to see where his slippers end up, and see this beautiful show. MY FAIR LADY sparkles with talent and excellent performances and you are sure to be humming “Get Me To The Church On Time”. This production of MY FAIR LADY reminds me of how good theater can be. The sold out opening night audience were on their feet for a well deserved standing ovation. This type of treat rarely comes our way.
LINCOLN CENTER THEATER’S
AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTION OF LERNER & LOEWE’S
MY FAIR LADY
Directed by Bartlett Sher, Music Supervision, Ted Sperling
Choreography, Christopher Gattelli
and LAIRD MACKINTOSH
Must Close November 28th
1192 Market Street, San Francisco
3 hours with one intermission
Tickets available at broadwaysf.com
PHOTOS BY JOAN MARCUS
IN-PERSON 40.00 RUSH TICKETS
A limited number of $40 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash or credit. 2 per person. Rush tickets are void if resold.
MOBILE 40.00 RUSH TICKETS
Download the TodayTix app in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to unlock the Rush ticketing feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter through the app. Check back in the app at 9am for access to exclusive day-of $40 Rush tickets for every performance.
My Fair Lady, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe. Directed by Bartlett Sher. Music supervision, Ted Sperling; choreography, Christopher Gattelli; sets, Michael Yeargan; costumes, Catherine Zuber; lighting, Donald Holder; sound, Marc Salzberg. With Wade McCollum, JoAnna Rhinehart.
PLEASE NOTE BROADWAYSF’s NEW PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday at 1pm
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