“My Fair Lady” at Stages Charms and Captivates
“My Fair Lady” originally opened on Broadway in 1956. I was privileged to see it with the original Henry Higgins, Rex Harrison, when it came to St. Louis and played the Kiel Opera House in 1981. Mounted on Broadway for a mere $400,000, the show has become legend in the annals of American musical theater. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” it is an enduring story of class differences and love. Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe have an abiding appeal to audiences. In 2013, it is not an easy show to faithfully recreate, but Stages has put together a production that is irresistible.
Diminutive Pamela Brumley is Eliza Doolittle. You can’t help falling for the firebrand personality of her character as she endures the slings & arrows of Professor Higgins and his dastardly self-serving scheme to change her life for the gain of his own ego. Brumley’s portrayal of Eliza is spot on and beautifully effective.
At first, Christopher Guilmet as Professor Higgins seems a bit overbearing. But in short order, he has the audience in step with his exacting performance. He and Brumley match up with great credibility and old-world authenticity. Their performances carry the evening.
David Foley, Jr., as Eliza’s father Alfred seems a bit young for the part, but as the free-thinking drunk who gets unwittingly catapulted into fame and fortune he is delightfully entertaining.
Veteran performers John Flack as Colonel Pickering and Zoe Vonder Haar as Mrs. Higgins are solid, authentic and in their own special way, adorable.
All production values in this company of “My Fair Lady” are, as usual at Stages, very engaging, colorful and ambitious. The seemingly big scale set changes happen quickly and with ease. Choreography by Dana Lewis is stirring and highly effective
Director Michael Hamilton has made certain that the improbable love story between Higgins and Eliza is what eventually seals the evening. I have to say that I enjoyed this production a lot. In the welcoming surroundings of The Robert G. Reim theater, it is an intimate, and at times, very touching production.