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Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Play and Gabriel Pascal’s Motion Picture “Pygmalion”

Garland Summer Musicals

Directed by Michael Serrecchia
Music Director/Conductor – Mark Mullino
Choreographer – Megan Kelly Bates
Stage Manager – Rachel DuPree
Set Design – Rodney Dobbs
Lighting Design – Jason Foster
Costume Design – Michael A. Robinson, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Sound Design – Tyler Payne
Master Carpenter – Joseph Murdock
Technical Director – Timothy Doyle
Producer – Patty Granville

Henry Higgins – Michael A. Robinson
Eliza Doolittle – Alexandra Cassens
Colonel Pickering – James Williams
Alfred Doolittle – Neil Rogers
Freddy – John Fredrickson
Mrs. Higgins – Nella Phillips
Mrs. Pearce – Christia Caudle
Mrs. Hopkins – Linda Frank
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill – Nancy Bartke
Harry – Trey Tolleson
Jamie – Corbin Born
Lord Boxington – David Noel
Lady Boxington – Katheryn Taylor Rose
Professor Zoltan Karpathy – Kyle Hancock
Footman – Parker Niksich
Queen of Transylvania – Patty Granville
Mrs. Higgins’ Maid – Lara Beth Bliss

Lilly Bates, Stephen Bates, Lara Beth Bliss, Elizabeth Drake, Kally Duncan, Skylar Duvall, Gabriel Ethridge, Gideon Ethridge, Allyson Guba, Kieran Hansen, Adam Henley, Lauren LeBlanc, Gena Loe, Rebecca Luby, Nitzia Martinez, Becca Mighell, Parker Niksich, Taylor M. Owen, Laura Lyman Payne, McKenzie Reece, Alex Sutherland, Andrew Toomey

Reviewed Performance: 6/17/2018

Reviewed by Carol St George, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

It’s ladies’ night at the Garland Summer Musicals’ My Fair Lady (or ladies’ afternoon, if you’re attending a matinee). But then it’s always ladies’ night. Because, let’s face it, Professor Higgins is a jerk, and it’s immensely satisfying for modern ladies to see Eliza Doolittle get the better of him.

The musical, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s film “Pygmalion,” which in turn are inspired by ancient Greek mythology’s Pygmalion (from Ovid’s poem “Metamorphosis”), is a study in classism, misogynism, and feminism in Edwardian England. Ultimately, though, it is a story of transformation — Eliza’s transformation, not only from a cockney flower girl to a proper English lady but also from a female victim of circumstance to an independent mistress of her fate.

Professor Henry Higgins (Michael A. Robinson), a phoneticist, is so sure that one’s speech defines one’s station in life that he boasts to his friend Colonel Pickering (James Williams) that he can turn the ordinary street vendor Eliza Doolittle (Alexandra Cassens) into a woman passing as a duchess in a mere six months solely by teaching her proper English. The next morning, the enterprising Eliza shows up at Higgins’ door, ready to take him at his word. Amused and intrigued, Colonel Pickering urges Higgins to take on Eliza as a linguistics student and sweetens the deal with a wager. Higgins accepts, and the adventure begins, along with a love/hate relationship between student and professor.

Eliza starts working, practically slaving, day and night to learn better speech while Higgins works tirelessly to reiterate his superiority and keep her in her place. She wants to improve her lot. He wants to prove he’s right. When Eliza finally makes a breakthrough, reciting “The Rain in Spain,” everyone celebrates: Eliza, Higgins, Pickering, even the servants. But it’s Higgins who claims all the credit. Even after Eliza’s new graces are taken for a spin at the Ascot Gavotte racecourse, after she charms the young Freddy Eynsford-Hill (John Fredrickson) to fall in love with her, and after her triumphant debut at the Embassy Ball, Higgins maintains that the victory is his doing alone.

It’s not until Eliza leaves, telling Higgins in no uncertain terms that her life will go on “Without You,” that he realizes what he’s lost without her (“I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”).

Michael A. Robinson plays Higgins as a ferocious snob, unconcerned with the little people like flower girls. His character remains relentlessly heartless virtually to the end, just as his strong baritone delivers his crusty pronouncements with unwavering assurance.

Alexandra Cassens is a charming Eliza, whether she’s belting her cockney dialect or exuberantly gliding through “I Could Have Danced All Night” with her clear, bright soprano. Her transition from cockney guttersnipe to refined lady is believable, and we believe in her.

James Williams as the dignified, genuinely classy Colonel Pickering is spot-on as the compassionate aristocrat who recognizes the lady in Eliza all along. His English accent is impeccable.

John Fredrickson’s Freddy is just the right blend of naiveté and optimism, and his fluid rendition of “On the Street Where You Live” is lovely.

Neil Rogers as Alfred Doolittle lands the extra comedic punch to this frequently funny musical as Eliza’s bawdy, money-grubbing, ne’er do well father. I only wished I could have heard every word clearly. Maybe his cockney accent was too good.

The ensemble as a whole, or in quartets, projects a crisp, well-blended, and pleasing sound, only occasionally failing to cleanly articulate a word or phrase. With Alan Lerner’s brilliant lyrics, catching every word matters. Nonetheless, the exhilarating and ambitious choreography by Megan Kelly brings the songs to thrilling life.

Rodney Dobbs’ sets, seamlessly changing throughout the production, take the audience from the elegant study of Professor Higgins to the gritty streets of London with equal authority.

Altogether, GSM’s My Fair Lady makes good on every front — story, setting, and music — above all, the music. For why else are we there but for the scores of timeless songs that come from Lerner and Loewe’s celebrated masterpiece? This great show, often referred to as the musical others are measured by, produced such memorable songs as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” in addition to those already mentioned. And music director Mark Mullino does a masterful job of keeping nearly a dozen musicians perfectly synced with the actors and sounding like a much larger orchestra.

Director Michael Serrecchia should be proud of this work. And we shouldn’t be surprised. His theatrical career includes Broadway musicals, films, and TV productions. He’s also won a slew of awards, including a New York Drama Desk Award, the New York Theatre World Award, and a Special Tony Award Recognition.

Celebrating its 36th season, the Garland Summer Musicals has clearly established a reputation for staging successful productions. My Fair Lady is no exception. You’ll see. Just you wait.

My Fair Lady
Brownlee Auditorium, Granville Arts Center, Garland, Texas
June 15 – June 24, 2018
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