BWW Reviews MY FAIR LADY Brings 'Loverly' Production to Fresno, Modesto, SoCal
Based on quality alone, it seems unfair to equate the touring production of "My Fair Lady" with a low-budget, non-equity production. Although that is what it is, the show boasts such "loverly" sets and cast members, it easily stands above typical non-equity shows in every aspect possible.
Grand backdrops of city architecture combined with fantastic lighting design bring Eliza Doolittle's classic journey to life. Discovered by Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering outside Covent Garden, the poor flower girl learns to talk, act and dress like a lady in a matter of mere months (or three hours of nonstop enjoyment for audiences). Eliza and Higgins, both with strong wills of their own, constantly test each other with witty remarks and humorous falling-outs.
While the script has few differences from the film, it gives viewers a lot more reasons to laugh than the movie, and the production features a cast ten times better than that of the film. Hollywood's version featured Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, but producers dubbed Hepburn with another singer's voice. Julie Andrews originated the title role on stage, and the show won several Tony awards. The touring production doesn't call it "the world's greatest musical" for nothing. "My Fair Lady" also has the record as one of Broadway's longest running shows.
The touring production of "My Fair Lady" follows in that tradition with beautiful sets, gorgeous costumes, a chorus with a tight sound and a strong cast. Two of the leads, Aurora Florence (Eliza) and Daniel Cardenas (Freddy), are fresh out of college. Based on performance alone, they seem more fit for Broadway, with Florence's clear, clean voice and Cardenas' romantic tenor voice.
With her gorgeous voice and strong acting, Florence could give Julie Andrews a run for her money, while Cardenas will woo every woman in the audience with his energetic and sensational performance of "On the Street Where You Live." He only gets one solo, but he knocks the ball out of the park, leaving a memorable mark on the audience. Chris Carsten, too, creates plenty of memories on stage as the proud Professor Higgins. It's a shame that all his songs are more spoken than they are sung, because it's clear Carsten has a voice worth hearing. Throughout the musical, he and Florence get to have a lot of fun with their characters' vocal sparring. The two play well off each other, and Richard Springle interrupts every once in a while as the Colonel to add to the fun.
The true comedic highlight of the show comes with Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, as played by Arthur Wise. When Eliza's father comes to "sell" her to Higgins, Wise makes himself at home on a chair, catches a flea or fly or two and flicks them on the ground, then wipes something dirty off his face and rubs it on the chair. And, with the help of the chorus and some outstanding choreography by Dennis Michael Jones, Wise delivers the most memorable number in the musical, "Get Me to the Church On Time." Consequently, the number receives the most applause in the show and the chorus receives notable applause during bows.
Director Jeffrey B. Moss gives the classic musical a strong and energetic staging, for the most part, and the cast delivers consistent and strong various English accents in addition to top-quality acting, singing and dancing.
"Just You Wait," and with "Just a Little Bit of Luck," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" to make the trip to your local theatre to revisit this classic story. Get me to the theatre on time.
My Fair Lady
Fresno - January 11-12
Palm Desert - January 13-15
Thousand Oaks - January 17-22
Santa Barbara - January 24-25