Friday, June 10, 2016

Review of Light Opera Works' My Fair Lady

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called My Fair Lady. The book and lyrics were by Alan Jay Lerner and the music was by Frederick Loewe. It was based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion and the movie Gabriel Pascal made of it. The choreography was by Clayton Cross and it was directed by Rudy Hogenmiller. It was about this woman named Eliza Doolittle (Elizabeth Telford) who was selling flowers on the street and decides she wants to become a proper lady after she hears Henry Higgins (Nick Sandys) brag to Colonel Pickering (Kirk Swenk) that he could pass her off as lady. So she goes and asks for lessons and Higgins makes a bet with Pickering that he can turn her into a lady. She moves in with them and they all start to become friends. But Higgins doesn't really see her as a person; he sees her as an object that can make him win a bet. It is about respect, class, and change. I feel like this show is very tricky to find out if you agree with the choices of the characters and feel like the ending turns out well. You can still enjoy this show even if you don't fully agree with the choices of the characters, and I think this production undercut some of the sexism in the show. I had fun at this show. I thought the music was great, there were funny scenes, and it had a slightly different take on Eliza and Henry's relationship.

The song "Get Me to the Church on Time" is a very silly song. I feel like Eliza's dad, Alfred P. Doolittle (Cary Lovett), had all of the silliest and weirdest songs. But he is also a huge sexist, because he has a whole verse of the song "With a Little Bit of Luck" about tricking women into giving him money and love without having to give anything in return. "Get Me to the Church on Time" had my favorite choreography in it. I felt like the choreography really suited the song. It was really big and ridiculous. The song is about how when you marry somebody, your life is kind of over, so you should live it up until you get married. He is sort of contradicting himself throughout the entire song because he is saying in the verses, "marriage sucks and you have to do all the stuff you want to do before you get married," but he's saying in the chorus that he wants to get to the church so he can get married, so that makes it seem like he doesn't want to get out of it. I thought Doolittle was very funny and I feel like the actor was very good for the part because for some reason I liked the character even though he treats everyone around him badly. He helped you ignore that he had beaten Eliza and cheated on his girlfriend and had altogether been a terrible person. But he had a good singing voice!

I really liked the race track scene. The costumes (by Theresa Ham) were gorgeous in every scene and reminded me of the movie without just copying the movie, and my favorite was in this scene: Eliza's black and white dress. My favorite line is also in scene; it is "Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin' arse." This is the first time that Henry Higgins takes Eliza out into society, and it looks like a disaster but it turns out to get her fans--like Mrs. Higgins (Joan McGrath) and Mrs. Eynsford-Hill (Maggie Clennon Reberg)--and an admirer, Freddy Eynsford-Hill (William Dwyer). They like her because she doesn't really seem to care what people think of her in that moment, and they think that means she is cool and she is acting like the cool kids do. You want her to behave however she wants to and not just how Henry wants her to. And it shows that there are people who feel that way in the play as well.

I feel like the problem with My Fair Lady compared to Pygmalion is that Eliza comes back to Henry Higgins really quickly even though he's been a jerk to her. She does not do that in the play. But the musical also does show some of the feminist perspective. Mrs. Higgins says a lot of awesome things about how Henry is a jerk, so that shows you she understands that her son is not a nice person and she doesn't try to defend him. I also feel like how Eliza is going out into the world and telling people what she actually wants instead of just doing what other people want her to do is great. When she is singing the song "Show Me" to Freddy she is talking about how the guy that she loved didn't show her that he loved her. And she is actually saying "I want you to do this for me, so I can actually like you." She is not letting other people tell her what she should do or what they will do to her; she is saying what she wants. If she tells people what she wants, she can't be a thing (or as Higgins calls her, "baggage") because people talk and say their feelings but things don't. Freddy did not see her as a thing because he likes her personality and he likes her more after she starts talking about what she wants. I feel like there is hope for Henry Higgins even though he has been a jerk because he also likes her when she expresses her own feelings to people and doesn't care what they think. This production shows that Henry could get better but has a long way to go by having both Eliza and Henry laugh together after he says "Where are my slippers?" That shows that they aren't mad at each other anymore. It also shows that he can laugh at himself and he doesn't take himself as seriously as he used to. The staging is implying that they could fall in love again, but it is not a sure thing, and that he has to keep changing for her to like him again.

People who would like this show are people who like fun songs, women telling people what they want, and getting to the church on time. I thought this was a good and interesting show and I liked it. It closes this weekend, so if you want to see it you should get your tickets now.

Photos: Joshua Lott

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