Fiddler on Theatre Mirror Reviews-"My Fair Lady"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"My Fair Lady"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Lyric Stage's current show is the classic Broadway smash musical "My Fair Lady" by Lerner and Loewe. The show is hailed as one of the greatest musicals of all time. It is the timeless story of Professor Henry Higgins, the crotchety, middle-aged bachelor and phonetician and Eliza Doolittle, the cockney flower girl, who becomes part of his experiment to transform her into a "lady." She agrees to take lessons from Higgins after he insults her manner of speech after their first meeting. The story follows her journey from rags to riches in a joyful manner. The musical is based on George Bernard Shaw's 1914 play Pygmalion with books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Director Scott Edmiston keeps the pacing of the show in constant motion with expert musical direction by Catherine Stornetta and enthralling, splendid choreography by David Connolly.Their combined expertise thrills you all night long and their reward is a thunderous standing ovation on a job very well done.

Spiro Veloudos spares no expense in bringing this classic tale to life with breathtaking costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley and a splendid set with flats with phonetic symbols on them by Janie Howland. This show is directed by by Scott who blocks each scene marvelously, creating picture post card moments along the way. He obtains stunning performances from his hard working cast. Catherine musically directs, plays lead keyboard and conducts a three piece orchestra. They do a splendid job and she obtains outstanding harmonies from her cast. David creates some upbeat dance numbers for "Loverly", "A Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church", a tango for "The Rain In Spain" and the graceful "Ascot Gavotte" which the cast executes perfectly. The show stopping numbers included "Little Bit of Luck", "I Could Have Danced All Night", "On the Street Where You Live" and "Get Me to the Church."

The cast is lead by Christopher Chew who played Sweeney Todd last season. He sings the score excellently, making it one of the first times I have ever heard Henry Higgins sing and not talk sing the numbers. Christopher is marvelous as this curmudgeon who yells and rails at people for not doing his bidding. He starts off with the tongue twisting "Why Can't the English" teach their children how to speak then displays his voice again in "An Ordinary Man" until you let a woman into your life then she drives you nuts, "Hymn to Him" about why can't a woman be more like a man and in his last number tugs at your heartstrings as he laments losing Eliza in "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face". Christopher brings out the fun side of Higgins in "Rain in Spain" trio and in "You Did It" where takes the praise for Eliza's success at the ball. (Tony Castellanos as Zoltan Karpathy sings part of "You Did It'' acting it out very comically.) Jennifer Ellis, a gorgeous and stunning brunette who is ethereal in this role. She makes the role her own, making the transition from Cockney flower girl to cultured lady perfectly. Her magnificent soprano voice shines in every number she's in. Jennifer's numbers include "Would It Be Loverly", where she yearns to be a lady "Rain in Spain" trio, where she finally learns to speak proper English and the exuberant "I Could Have Danced All Night" where her crush on Higgins is revealed and her voice soars off the charts up to a high C. Her three angry numbers are splendid, too. They are "Just You Wait" where she is exasperated at Higgins' vocal lessons, "Show Me" where she is upset at Higgins' ill treatment of her after the ball and takes it out on Freddy by hurling her suitcase at him and "Without You" where she finally tells Henry off. Terrific chemistry between the two leads brought the show to a satisfying conclusion where Higgins puts his head on Eliza's lap and she rubs his hair so the ending is not ambiguous in this version.

Higgins' right hand man, Pickering is played with gusto by Remo Airaldi. He portrays the stodgy older man who treats the girl with respect and displays his voice in "You Did It" when he sings about the success at the ball. The biggest scene stealer in this show is J.T.Turner as Alfie Doolittle who is constantly drunk. His expert comic timing is superb and both his numbers stop the show with their power, punch and execution. They both turn in to big dance extravaganzas. Bravo! One of the most powerful voices in the show belongs to Jared Troilo as Freddy. His phenomenal tenor voice soars off the charts in "On the Street Where You Live" and his acting as this spoiled rich kid is right on the money, too. Cheryl McMahon uses her lovely voice as Mrs. Pearce where she leads the servants chorus numbers. Her comic acting in this part shines as it does in every role I have seen her portray. Beth Gotha is a hoot as the upper class Mrs. Higgins who continually puts Henry in his place with her comic barbs. Her indignation and feistiness are wonderful to behold. Kudos to everyone who makes this a show to be extremely proud of. What a way to start off the 2015 season with a must see show that audiences will savor and enjoy. So be sure to catch "My Fair Lady" before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"My Fair Lady" (4 September - 11 October)
@ 140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide