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Review Roundup: MY FAIR LADY National Tour Resumes Performances; Read the Reviews!


The production officially returned on September 14, 2021 at The Hobby Center in Houston, TX.

My Fair Lady

The North American tour of Lincoln Center Theater's critically-acclaimed production of Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady officially returned on September 14, 2021 at The Hobby Center in Houston, TX. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the tour originally opened on December 19, 2019 at The Kennedy Center.

Returning to lead the cast are Shereen Ahmed as Eliza Doolittle, Laird Mackintosh as Professor Henry Higgins, Leslie Alexander as Mrs. Higgins, Adam Grupper as Alfred P. Doolittle, Kevin Pariseau as Colonel Pickering, Gayton Scott as Mrs. Pearce, and Sam Simahk as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Joining the tour from the original Broadway company is Lee Zarrett as Professor Zoltan Karpathy.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts - Houston, TX

Audrey Morabito, BroadwayWorld: Mackintosh plays the scientific, calculated, and blunt Professor Higgins with both vigor and humor. Ahmed is beyond lovely as Eliza Doolittle, and more than pulls off the transformation from street girl slang to elegant spoken word. Mastering that dialect alone is a feat in and of itself. Ahmed and Mackintosh are the perfect diametrically opposed pair, rounded out as a trio with Pariseau as Colonel Pickering in numbers like "The Rain in Spain."

Chris Grey, Houston Chronicle: In some respects, "My Fair Lady" remains a product of its time, both Edwardian London and the 1950s. Higgins refers to Eliza as "baggage" and "a creature" without reservation; numbers such as "A Hymn to Him" - in which Higgins wonders "why can't a woman be more like a man?", among other cringeworthy sentiments - can't help but land a little awkwardly in 2021.

Adrian Almy, The Rice Thresher: The performances of Ahmed and Mackintosh were masterful. Ahmed compellingly captures Eliza's struggle to improve herself and the joy she finds in it, while Mackintosh's Higgins is such a thoroughly horrible person that you cannot help but hate him. He is misanthropic, misogynistic and self-important, providing a stark contrast to Pariseau's more sympathetic Pickering.

Civic Center Music Hall - Oklahoma City, OK

Brett Fieldcamp, Oklahoma City Free Press: Ahmed so perfectly and delicately toes the line between Ambrose's world-weariness and Hepburn's softer naivete that she's able to convey both elements at times simultaneously. Ahmed's Eliza is sad. She doesn't impart an inherent anger or exhaustion at the world, yet she doesn't ever appear lost or exploitably innocent either. There's a deep, earned sadness to Ahmed's portrayal that underscores all of her combative outbursts and longing torch songs alike.

Brandy McDonnell, The Oklahoman: After her hilarious debut at the Ascot race track - where her spirited enthusiasm contrasts with the stiff boredom of the upper-crust attendees and gains her a suitor in the penniless, fawning gentleman Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Sam Simahk) - it's off to the ball for Eliza, who must fool not only the nobles and royals but also Higgins' linguistic rival Zoltan Karpathy (Lee Zarrett).

Larry Laneer, LL Curtain Call: The production stimulates the senses. Michael Yeargan's set design fits into the Thelma Gaylord like it had been designed specifically for that theater. A moving, revolving centerpiece creates various rooms and levels of Henry Higgins's flat in authentic detail. Catherine Zuber's costumes have an understated, tasteful look. I'm no expert, but Eliza's gown and red cape for the embassy ball may be appropriate for embassy balls today. The nifty shades of gray for "Ascot Gavotte" reflect the intentional colorlessness of the number.

Dolby Theatre - Hollywood, CA

Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld: Directed by Tony and Drama Desk Award winner Bartlett Sher, this MY FAIR LADY has style and fantastic sets by Michael Yeargan (Higgins' bi-level rotating home in particular), stunning costumes by Catherine Zuber, tight choreography by Christopher Gattelli, and performers with much talent and verve-especially Sam Simahk as dreamy Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a sweet and crush-worthy gentleman who swoons for Eliza (Shereen Ahmed), and Adam Grupper as Eliza's grifter father, who brings the house down with the dazzling showstopper "Get Me to the Church On Time."

LaRita Shelby, EurWeb: The brilliantly talented and diverse ensemble cast provides a host of spirited characters as Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins carry out their tête-à-tête in this classic American tale of a pauper who becomes a princess who can now speak the Queen's English with perfection. And may I shamelessly give a shout out to the musicians who lay a foundation worthy of both a Grammy and a Tony award.

Jill Weinlein, OnStage Blog: Another singing standout in this musical is Freddy, performed by Sam Simahk. His voice is golden as he sings "On the Street Where You Live" while infatuated with Eliza's beauty and her free spirit. Whenever Simahk stepped onstage, I couldn't take my eyes off of him.

Pauline Adamek, Arts Beat LA: The voices are superb. Shereen Ahmed plays Eliza Doolittle (a role she understudied on Broadway) with grace and aplomb. She lights up the stage with her sweet presence. Her voice is pure and haunting, with delicacy underpinned by power. Her cockney accent is passable. Shereen, an Egyptian American with close ties to the Arab-American community, is the first woman of color to play the role of Eliza in a major first class Broadway/touring production of My Fair Lady. And she gives a truly wonderful performance in this important role.

Deborah Klugman, Gia On The Move: But the directorial gambit that capped the night for this critic came at the show's crowning moment. In the film Eliza and Higgins reach an impasse; the newly independent Eliza still cannot decide whether to go or stay. No such timorousness besets the heroine here; she makes her choice and strides from the stage.

Orpheum Theatre - San Francisco, CA

Steve Murray, BroadwayWorld: Laird MacIntosh (Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll & Hyde, Mary Poppins) stars as the cantankerous and snooty phonetics expert Henry Higgins who makes a wager with friend Colonel Pickering (Kevin Pariseau) that he can turn a lowly flower girl into a Duchess. Relative newcomer Shereen Ahmed stars as Eliza Doolittle, a simple flower seller with a cockney accent who wishes to move up in society and accepts to be Higgin's student. Shaw's story of class division and social mobility needed a romantic angle the provides added tension to the story. There's plenty of wonderful supporting performances here; Adam Grupper as Alfred Doolittle, Kevin Pariseau as Colonel Pickering and Sam Simahk as Freddy Eynsford-Hill.

Lily Janiak, Datebook: You might have your own apoplectic fit at the sound system at the Orpheum Theatre, where the show opened Wednesday, Nov. 3. Its heavy echoes left many of the show's first moments unintelligible, making an inadvertent case for the unamplified voice - ironic for a show that centers on pronunciation. But other than that, this production by Tony Award-winning, San Francisco-bred director Bartlett Sher is marvelous, making a fresh argument that Eliza and Higgins are consummate equals.

Randy McMullen, The Mercury News: The show updates the story - about the relationship between a poor flower seller and a pompous linguistics professor - a tad to approach contemporary sensibilities. But of course those glorious tunes - "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Loverly," "Get Me to the Church on Time," "On the Street Where You Live" - are still there.

Karen D'Souza, The Mercury News: And yet the genius of Sher's revival is the authenticity of the emotional interludes. You can feel the attraction building between Higgins and Eliza just as you believe her heartbreak when she realizes she can never again feel at home with the hoi polloi. Even the most caricatured moments here feel real.

Charles Kruger, Theatre Storm: Shereen Ahmed is a formidable and athletic Eliza, anything but self-effacing or petite. She is equally convincing as the "deliciously dirty" flower girl and the triumphant queen of the ball. Among many fine moments, she shines brightly in her rendition of the marvelously comic song, "Just You Wait." As she rages against the rudeness of Henry Higgins, she passes through rooms and up and down the stairways of Higgins' Wimpole Street mansion magically rendered on a turnable stage by set designer Michael Yeargen.

Civic Theatre - San Diego, CA

Sandi Masori, San Diego Jewish World: I thought that Shereen Ahmed did a great job as Eliza, and her vocal range to hit the high notes was quite impressive. My son really liked Mackintosh's Higgens portrayal and found him to be an exceptional actor.

Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune: Shereen Ahmed's Eliza is less extreme, with gentler and more natural line delivery, and a greater sense of agency. When she's stripped by Higgins' servants to be showered, her fear is palpable. And when she snaps emotionally and delivers the revenge song "Just You Wait," she charges unrelentingly through Higgins' home - a dazzling, four-sided, two-story turntable set - without ever stopping, as the set spins quickly to keep up with her pace.

ASU Gammage - Tempe, AZ

Herbert Paine, BroadwayWorld: After just a few minutes, once the curtain rises on this new presentation of a 1956 Broadway classic, we're right there in the middle of a busy, bustling evening in London's Convent Garden. You get the immediate impression of how the show is about to unfold and how different its presentation is about to become. It's as if director Bartlett Sher had taken Alan Jay Lerner's book, blown a layer of dust from its pages that had accumulated over the years, then re-vamped, re-imagined, and re-tooled the whole affair. The result is a theatrical joy ride that bursts into life the moment the giant pillars of Convent Garden are lowered from above and the opening scene is established. You're familiar with the work, but you've never seen it approached in quite this way before.

Chris Curcio, Curtain Up Phoenix: The touring cast is unremarkable but competent with no glaringly inept performances but none of the Broadway revival's skill. The producers played safe by utilizing some of the Broadway staging's understudies, although on opening night, a substitute played Eliza as Shereen Ahmed sat out allowing Nicole Ferguson to step into the pivotal role. Like most of the cast, Ferguson failed to deliver either the part's cockney dialect initially and never made the transition to the refined British accent as she always sounded like an American awkwardly trying to feign challenging accents. Therefore, Eliza's winning of two men - professor Higgins and suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill - makes little sense.

Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway: The Lincoln Center production, under the direction of Bartlett Sher, steers away from over romanticizing the story and paints Eliza as more in control of her destiny and Higgins as less of a controlling and somewhat mean-spirited man than shown in previous productions. Those subtle shifts in tone help put the two on a more equal footing and also give Eliza a sense of empowerment that works quite well, especially for the ending which, while still somewhat ambiguous, allows Eliza to have the upper hand. The slight updates also add some nice touches to depict other women during that period, including seeing women suffragettes, that help this battle of the sexes be more than just the battle between Higgins and Eliza and more identifiable for a modern age.

Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

Cathy Burch, Ahmed delivered a powerful and entertaining performance when the award-winning musical opened for its five-day run on Jan. 5. From the opening scenes when she encounters Higgins and Colonel Pickering (delightfully played by Kevin Pariseau), Ahmed brought an edge to her character that let you know her version of Eliza wasn't going to put up with Higgins' abuses unchallenged.

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