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BWW Review: MY FAIR LADY at Broad Brook Opera House

A beautiful transformation takes place on stage at the Broad Brook Opera House in the Opera House Players' solid, beautifully presented production of the classic Lerner and Loewe musical, MY FAIR LADY. A classic such as this one requires love and care to ensure that audiences experience all the things they might expect (classic songs, familiar characters and settings) but in a way that feels fresh, new, and exciting. And in this production, the Opera House Players have done just that.

For anyone not familiar with MY FAIR LADY, its source material (PYGMALION by George Bernard Shaw) or some of the modern interpretations of the story (the hit film, PRETTY WOMAN), the musical centers on Eliza Doolittle, a poor girl selling flowers on the streets of London during the early part of the 20th century. She meets world-famous (and quite self-centered) linguist, Professor Henry Higgins, who, as a bet with his colleague Colonel Pickering, sets out to turn Eliza into someone who could pass for royalty, simply by improving her speech. This process, as one might expect, is not without conflict (Eliza and Higgins are equally stubborn) or marvelous triumphs, and along the way Higgins and Eliza both find that change, in more ways than one, is inevitable.

While there are many, many things about this production that shine, it is the cast that truly bring this story to vivid life. As Eliza, Caeilie Flanagan is phenomenal. Her characterization, range of emotion, and transformation from "gutter-snipe" to beautiful princess is thrilling to behold. She delivers both a lower-class and high-society English accent flawlessly. Her singing is beautiful as well, with very clear echos of Julie Andrews who originated the role. Even more impressive is the fact that Ms. Flanagan is a senior in high school. I can only imagine what is in store for her (and for audiences) as she continues to develop as a performer. While a performance such as Ms. Flanagan's alone makes a production like this worth seeing, there is so much more that shines. Gene Choquette's Henry Higgins is the perfect curmudgeon with a secret soft spot. His delivery of Higgins' verbose songs is flawless and is quite convincing in his disdain, and eventual fondness for Eliza.

A number of other stand out performances are certainly worth noting as well. Robert Lunde's Colonel Pickering is sublime. His portrayal of an aristocratic Englishman is so authentic, I forgot this was likely not his native accent. His interactions with Higgins and Eliza were touching and fun and he provided many smiles during his scenes. Speaking of smiles, Dennis J. Scott is probably the best Alfred P. Doolittle I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. His delivery feels effortless, moving from shiftless dustman and boozy blaggard to conniving con-man without missing a beat. His dances are joyous and his face lights up in every number. It made me wish Alfie had more scenes in the show just to get to see Mr. Scott in the role a bit more. According to his bio, Mr. Scott has returned to the stage after an 11 year hiatus and I hope the return is permanent as he is a natural and belongs on stage. Other strong performances include Deborah Jacobson who is authentically reserved and refined as Mrs. Pearce and Michael Graham Morales as Freddy Eynsford-Hill who delivers a beautiful On the Street Where You Live. Finally, I have to mention Erica Romeo's delicious performance as Mrs. Higgins. Romeo, who was brilliant as Aldonza in last year's Opera House Players production of MAN OF LA MANCHA, brings a certainly different, but equal level of brilliance to this small, but critical role. As with Mr. Scott's Alfie, I wanted to see much more of Ms. Romeo's Mrs. Higgins' signature upper-crust meets no-nonsense aristocrat.

The brilliant cast is supported by a strong orchestra, under the direction of Kelly Sharp, who, though only four people, delivered a beautiful underscore for the evening. Artistic Director Anna Giza handles the pacing of the show quite well (which is a good thing since MY FAIR LADY is already one of the longer musicals), and keeps the large group scenes from feeling too crowded. Francisco Aguas' sets work well for the small stage, and Higgins' study, in particular is quite nice. Finally, the ensemble, though quite varied in their degree of experience, provide strong performances during the group numbers and look like they are having a great time on stage.

In summary, MY FAIR LADY provides a beautiful evening of theatre and the Opera House Players do a fantastic job bringing it to life. And though MY FAIR LADY is an often performed show, this production has so many standout performances you don't want to miss it. So, whether you are a fan of MY FAIR LADY or just looking for a thrilling evening of theatre, the address is 27A Wimpole Street, the home of one Professor Henry Higgins and his lovely pupil, Eliza Doolittle.

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Opera House Players, Inc. is currently presenting MY FAIR LADY through November 27 (Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm) at the Broad Brook Opera House, 107 Main Street, Broad Brook, CT. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 860-292-6068 or online at www.operahouseplayers.org. Adults: $21, Over 60/Under 12: $17. Group discounts available (minimum of 15).

Photo Credit: © Viviana's Photography

Top Photo: Henry Higgins (Gene Choquette), Eliza Doolittle (Caelie Flanagan), and Colonel Pickering (Robert Lunde)

Mid Photo: Alfred P. Doolittle (holding fan) (Dennis Scott) and Cockneys

Bottom Photo: Eliza Doolittle (Caelie Flanagan)


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From This Author Joseph Harrison