BWW Reviews: 'OH MY!' to Cape Playhouse's MY FAIR LADY
My Fair Lady is truly of the most perfect testaments of a musical success there ever was; from a plot filled with witty little criticisms to rather verbose songs about the triumphs of the human will, Lerner and Loewe's classic has captured the hearts of many since its premiere more than half a century ago. And indeed, why not? Everything about this musical is wonderful, and there is such a profound lesson to be taught towards it end, audiences have little choice but to be both charmed and at times slightly offended by the means in which the show's two main characters find reasons other that of a bet to remain civil towards one another. My Fair Lady is a wondrous lesson about perceiving people in a light that is completely different than our intuitions may dictate; it is about creating something out of nothing, only to discover that the "nothing" to be found in another was precisely what another may have been missing all along, making a life one may have originally been complacent with somehow partially unsatisfying and empty.
It is one of those musicals that you cannot get enough of, and The Cape Playhouse has thankfully brought such a beautiful production of My Fair Lady to a Cape Cod audience; between the show's quality, the chosen cast and the way in which the director sort of re-mastered this show from what everyone may be used to, we should all be gracious that the Playhouse decided on this show to continue its already successful eighty-ninth season.
Adapted from Shaw's Pygmalion, here directed by Tony-nominee Hunter Foster and marking the first ever performance of the show on this stage, who makes his Cape Playhouse directorial debut with this show, My Fair Lady is the rather epic story of Eliza Doolittle, a young woman who sells flowers in Covent Garden and because of her Cockney accent, makes a complete mockery of the English language - so much so that she becomes the [at first] unwilling interest of Professor Henry Higgins. Higgins makes a bet that she can transform this abomination of a person into a proper lady by teaching her to speak like on. Eliza accepts his help, and from there is subject to the Professor's never-ending lessons, his rather tyrannical nature and what becomes a sort of unspoken battle between the two concerning the rationale behind the act of forcing two very strong personalities to work together. Some of the best songs of the musical theater genre come from this musical, including Wouldn't It Be Loverly, On the Street Where You Live and Get Me To The Church On Time and many others that make this show something very special. It holds a special place in my heart as well, as it was the first musical I ever became a part of three years ago, and to say that I was very happy with this production is a complete understatement.
What is so wonderful about a show like My Fair Lady is that there is something so profound in the dialogue each character has, and the way in which the subsequent conversations just shine so much light upon the thoughts and feelings of a particular individual. Looking at Professor Higgins, he is a man that is simply content with his life and the work he has chosen to make it worthwhile; some might say that the satisfaction he receives from his own company is only the slight bit condescending. To have this way of life shaken by a woman who is so "deliciously low," as he comments, and then proceed to change him (possibly for the better?) makes for such a wonderful conversation about what it means to be a flower girl versus a learned professor.
As the outcome of this show proves, the way a person is in his nature is the only real truth he has when deciding what is right in the world, and what is wrong; this subjectivity and bias come into play when Higgins looks at Eliza like the gutter-snipe she is at the musical's start, but then a self sufficient stronghold towards the musical's end; of course, his ego comes into play, taking credit for such the resilience and spirit she already possessed. There is just so much depth to the story of Eliza and Professor Higgins, and to witness this on stage, brought about by immensely talented actors and creative team, is just something wonderful to behold.
It is hard to say something about the acting in this production, as there is not enough praise that can be given to all those involved to make The Cape Playhouse's production of My Fair Lady the success it has become in the few short days it has been on stage. Everyone was absolutely stunning; there really isn't any rational thing one could say against any of the actors in this show; everyone was very appropriately cast, and this production was a stunning success because of the way they brought this classic plot to a new degree of life.
Ashley Brown* as Eliza Doolittle and Jeff McCarthy* as Professor Henry Higgins are both superb. Brown not only has an absolutely beautiful voice, she also captured Eliza's character extremely well, understanding the power she innately had all too well come the show's end. McCarthy is a condescending Higgins, and he is just the right shade of tyrannical and outlandish for his character to shine - even when his character is gradually being overtaken by Eliza's growing confidence. Constantine Germanacos* as Freddy Eynsford-Hill is boyishly charming, appearing more hesitant of than excited by this newfound crush on Ms. Doolittle; his approach to the character is very different than how I have seen Freddy portrayed, and I think that he did a wonderful jon. Ed Dixon* as Colonel Pickering was also very entertaining, always the one to put up with Higgins while secretly definitely having a wonderful time as his right-hand man. James Brennan* as Alfred P. Doolittle soon became the crowd favorite; between his dancing, his antics and his sense of humor in the midst of getting married, Brennan really captures what it means to be Alfie.
Although I cannot mention everyone, the cast was brilliant, to say the least. Credit must also go to Choreographer Lorin Latarro and Dance Captain Francesca Granell for how beautifully present the ensemble was during its big dance numbers. I was especially impressed by the spirit brought to Get Me to the Church on Time, as there was a newfound sense of energy and climactic exuberance brought to the number that has been unprecedented to me. A shout-out must also go out to Musical Director Nick DeGregorio, who led his orchestra well to create to such beautiful music. Well done to all!
Even though My Fair Lady has a limited run at the Playhouse, if by some chance there are tickets left, please rush to see this show. It reminded me why I love it in the first place, and I cannot give enough praise to how wonderful this production turned out. It really was just "loverly."
My Fair Lady at the Cape Playhouse (located at 820 Main Street/Route 6A in Dennis, MA) began performances on July 28th and will continue thru August 8th. The performance schedule is as follows: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00. Tickets begin at $33, and may be purchased by visiting the box office, calling (508).385.3911 or by checking out capeplayhouse.com.
Enjoy the show!
Photo Credit: Edie Weitrich
*Denotes Equity Member