BWW Review: You Will Want to Dance All Night With MY FAIR LADY at Red Mountain Theatre Company
The iconic musical "My Fair Lady" starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison is one of the gold standards in musical theatre. It is packed with memorable songs while still holding true to a beautiful story of growth and evolution. Audiences embraced the film as it won eight Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director). The American Film Institute named it the 91st greatest American film of all time. In 2006 it was ranked eighth in the AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals list. Red Mountain Theatre Company is offering an exciting and colorful production of the classic "My Fair Lady" that truly makes you want to dance all night.
Professor Henry Higgins (Kyle Holman) is a rising British elite with a predisposition for studying the linguistics of the "lower"class as if they were subjects of an anthropological expedition. Higgins is cold, crass and cross with everyone in his life. But his ear and skills in phonetics is without equal. Higgins (Holman) addiction is his catch and release approach to teaching proper speech to the poor unfortunates. His safari is the dirty streets of London, and on this particular night he finds his great white whale.
Enter Eliza Doolittle (Kristen Sharp). A down, but not out streetwise flower girl who is representing her Cockney roots. She is not rich in money, but her self-pride is priceless. She tries to sell flowers to Higgins and ends up ender his inquisitive ear. Her spirited jibes, and speech is fascinating to him. He boasts his ability to turn her into proper lady. Eliza (Sharp) takes his boasting to task. She offers to hire him to refine her into a socially acceptable young woman who will have better opportunities than what she sees before her. To Higgins this is a bet. For Eliza it is a chance of a lifetime. Higgins (Holman) waves her money away and strikes a deal with her for a nine-month stay at his palatial estate. The rise to the occasion will not be easy, but Eliza (Sharp) sticks it out. She is equally as stubborn as her teacher. A trait that infuriates Higgins (Holman) on the surface, but underneath it only causes him to admire her more. The two grow on each other's nerves for what seems like an eternity. Results seem to never arrive. That is until the rain in Spain starts falling on the plains: mainly. This surprise brings change, joy and then something else neither expected. Intentions begin to become cloudy and uncomfortable dynamics surface that neither of them can stomach.
Kyle Holman and Kristen Sharp both are returning to Red Mountain Theatre Company. Holman was Sam in "Momma Mia" and Sharp was Lilly in "The Secret Garden." They have a wonderful chemistry together. That translates an honest realism to the layered and oh so complicated relationship between Eliza and Higgins. Their powerful vocal training carries the audience on an enjoyable ride through each memorable song.
Team Higgins includes the comically old advisor Colonel Pickering (Ron Dauphinee), the dutifully patient Mrs. Pearce (Amy E. Johnson), and of course his wise and wisecracking mother Mrs. Higgins (Colleen Bates). Eliza is flying solo, by the seat of her pants. But never too far away is inebriated and manipulative father Alfred P. Doolittle (played by comical powerhouse Nick Crawford), her smitten, velvet voiced suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Jacob Alexander). Christopher Sams brings strong character work to many roles including the continental know-it-all, Zoltan Karpathy. The impressive cast brings an energized performance, poise and fun personalities. The ensemble is working tight moves and toned voices.
Director David Callaghan leads the actors in a tightly coordinated performance that seamlessly carries the audience through this classic musical theatre production. The elements all immerse you quickly. Brent Mauldin's musical direction hits all the marks. The spirited orchestra and precise singers give abundant life to each classic number. "Just You Wait", "The Rain in Spain", "I Could Have Danced All Night", "Get Me to the Church On Time", "On the Street Where You Live." The song list goes on and on.
Cliff Simon's beautifully detailed set along with Brad Cozby's vibrant lighting design give a energetic canvas to the actors to soar in. Especially in the ensemble numbers. Jamorris Rivers energetic choreography adds a heated pop to the dance numbers. The wigs and make up by Holly MacClendon was working overtime. Actors went from street urchins to high society in a matter of moments. Costumes provided by Kansas City Costume Company stood out with distinction. The reveals of Eliza's iconic gowns brought verbal "wows" and gasps of delight from the audience. Patrick MacDonald's sound design fills up the theater with impressive fullness. The audio mix of the performers was outstanding. The clarity of the barbershop quartet numbers was a highlight.
Red Mountain Theatre Company's "My Fair Lady" is a performance of note that takes you back in time with memorable talent and high society production value. It's an entertaining journey into the golden age of musical theatre while still being fresh as lilacs.
Red Mountain Theatre Company
My Fair Lady
Book and Lyrics by Jay Lerner, Music by Frederick Loewe
Director - David Callaghan
Music Director - Brent C. Mauldin
Henry Higgins - Kyle Holman
Eliza Doolittle - Kristen Sharp
Colonel Pickering - Ron Dauphinee
Alfred P. Doolittle - Nick Crawford
Mrs. Pearce - Amy E. Johnson
Freddy Eynsford-Hill - Jacob Alexander
Mrs. Higgins - Colleen Bates
Mrs. Hopkins - Tahauny Cleghorn
Zoltan Karpathy / George - Christopher Sams
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill - Natalie Valentine
Harry - Kendal T. Johnson
Jamie - Jalen J. Brown
Quartet: Bradyn Debysingh, Drew Fillinger, Blake Rushing Mitchell, Scott Thorne
Ensemble: Aldan Alford, Nate Blakley, Emily Earle, Jordan Oliver-Graham, Hannah Kuykendall, Ann Marie Meeker, Grace Robbins, Zoe Wirt
June 7 - 30
Tickets and info at redmountaintheatre.org
Red Mountain Theatre Company performing at
The Dorothy Jemison Day Theater at The Alabama School of Fine Arts
800 19th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203
Some construction is in the area so be mindful of extra time to park
Photo credit: Stewart Edmonds