BWW Review: SCERA's MY FAIR LADY Features Not-to-Be-Missed Performances
MY FAIR LADY at SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem has everything you are looking for in a classic musical, with not-to-be missed leading performances at the top of the list.
MY FAIR LADY (book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, adapted from George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION) is a classic in every sense of the word. The original 1957 Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and its 1964 film adaptation won eight Oscars, including Best Picture. Dialect expert Henry Higgins takes on the challenge of passing off Cockney flower girl Eliza Dolittle as a duchess, but he doesn't foresee the impact their lessons will make.
While many elements of SCERA's production are to be admired, its single greatest strength is the performance of its two leads.
Mindy Smoot Robbins is an Actor's Equity member who covered Sutton Foster as Eponine in the tour of LES MISERABLES and previously played Eliza Dolittle at Tuacahn and BYU. She is brilliant in the role, with spot-on dialects, a layered acting performance, and a mellifluous singing voice.
Utah stage and screen favorite Marvin Payne is equally superb as Professor Henry Higgins. His likeability compels the audience to root for the character, and his acting choices make his performance infinitely watchable.
The wealth of experience the two leads have, along with the talent that brought them that experience in the first place, is abundantly evident and elevates the entire company.
Robert Holcombe holds his own in a standout performance as Alfred Dolittle, and additional highlights include Chyleen Bacon Bluth as Mrs. Higgins and Cathryn Frisby as Mrs. Pearce. Marc Haddock as Colonel Pickering and Gabe Spencer as Freddy Eynsford-Hill round out the great supporting cast.
As in all community theatre productions, the ensemble performances are occasionally uneven, but more often than not they surprise and delight.
Elements that could use some improvement are the accents, which drop in and out for most performers, and the staging of some of the ensemble numbers. The instrumental opening sequence feels unnatural and unsure of what it wants to be, and the inclusion of every cast member as a household servant seems proportionally off and lends itself to awkward staging. Some minor set pieces and ensemble costumes also do not match the level of quality of the rest.
This is only apparent because of the high quality of the production as a whole. Professor Higgins' large home is fully realized in great detail by scenic designer M'Liss Tolman. Equally remarkable is the use of stone columns and other various set pieces to successfully represent the other London locations. For the most part, the set is very impressive. In addition, costume designer Kelsey Seaver has crafted some beautiful period costumes-especially Eliza's stunning ballgown. The work of lighting designer Marianne Ohran is subtle and showcases the strengths of the production.
MY FAIR LADY plays through May 6, 2017. For tickets, call the box office at 801-225-ARTS (2787) or visit www.scera.org.