Theatre Mirror Reviews - "My Fair Lady"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"My Fair Lady"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The North Kingstown Players current show is Lerner and Lowe's famous musical, "My Fair Lady". Based on George Bernard Shaw's 1914 play, "Pygmalion", the story is about Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller in Covent Garden. She agrees to take speech lessons from phonetician, Henry 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 and thrills you all night long. Valerie Remillard-Myette, the director keeps this three hour show's pacing from scene to scene so that it flows along wonderfully all night long with hard working stage manager, Andi Mattera and her crew moving the huge set on and offstage with ease.

The show is directed by Valerie and musically directed by her husband, Willie Myette. He also conducts the splendid 7 piece orchestra while Elaine Blaser plays the piano. They do a terrific job with this huge show. Valerie creates some upbeat dances for "Loverly", "Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church", a tango for "The Rain in Spain" and the graceful, "Embassy Waltz". The multitude of colorful costumes are by Liz Tully and Pat Sousa while the huge reversible set was designed by Bob Santaniello who I haven't seen since we performed in "1776" for Prout-Hendricken Productions back in 1979 and built by Steve McGraw. The cast is headed by veteran actor, Jeffrey Del Gigante as Henry Higgins. He looks like Kelsey Grammar and is topnotch as the curmudgeon who yells and rails at people for not doing his bidding. Jeff's accent and diction are so precise that you understand his every line and lyric. His strong singing voice starts off the show with the tongue twisting, "Why Can't the English" teach their children how to speak and continues to show off his expert handling of "An Ordinary Man" until you let a woman into your life then she drives you nuts and "Hymn to Him" about why can't a woman be more like a man but tugs at your heartstrings in his lament at losing Eliza in "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face". Jeff brings out the fun side of Higgins in the "The Rain in Spain" trio and in "You Did It'' where he gets the praise for Eliza's success at the ball.His leading lady, Eliza Doolittle is excellently played by gorgeous statuesque brunette, Laura Leach. She handles the transition from Cockney flower to high class British lady splendidly. Laura's many songs include "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" where she yearns to be a lady which is backed up by the chorus, "Rain in Spain" trio when she finally learns to speak like a lady, the exuberant "I Could Have Danced All Night" when Eliza's crush on Higgins is revealed and in her three angry songs "Just You Wait" where she is exasperated by Higgins' lessons, "Show Me" where she is upset at Higgins mistreatment of her after the ball, takes it out on Freddy and "Without You" where she finally stands up to Higgins and tells him off. Her entrance in her gorgeous ball gown during the embassy scene is breathtaking,too. Laura's comic Dover move your blooming arse receives many laughs during the Gavotte scene. Brava.

Higgins' right hand man, Colonel Pickering is played with gusto by Gerry Maynard. He plays his stodgy older man who treats Eliza respectfully and obtains a chance to show off his fantastic voice in "You Did It" where it soars off the charts when he sings of Higgins success with Eliza at the Ball. Gerry gives this role the needed energy and comic timing to pull it off without a hitch. Another comic performance is given by David Pearce as Eliza's father, Alfie P. Doolittle who is constantly drunk. His acting is as wonderful as his singing voice which he shows off in "Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time" which both turn into a big chorus song and dance extravaganzas. His two energetic drinking cronies are played by Steve McGraw and Ken McNaught who sing and dance up a storm in this show. One of the most outstanding voices in this show belongs to T.J. Cienki who plays Freddy, Eliza's love interest. His acting is topnotch as this naive, rich and spoiled young man and his tenor voice is fabulous in "On the Street Where You Live". T.J. is only 17 and is a senior at Prout High School and will be studying opera in college. Joan McAfee plays his worrywart mother and Mary Stevenson plays Higgins' mother with the right amount of indignation and feistiness. Donna Leite uses her lovely voice as Mrs. Pearce, Higgins maid who leads the servant chorus in this show. She has a funny bit taking a swig of Port wine after they leave for the ball. An outstanding group number is the Ascot Gavotte where they watch the race as the upper crust British and show no reaction to the exuberant race. Kudos to Valerie as well as to one and all who worked on this show. So for a trip back to England in the early 1900's be sure to catch "My Fair Lady" at North Kingstown Players.

"My Fair Lady" (10 - 12 December)
NORTH KINGSTOWN PLAYERS
@ North Kingstown High School, 150 Fairway Drive, NORTH KINGSTOWN RI
1(401)294-3612

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