“MY FAIR LADY” PERFECTLY LOVERLY IN NEW CANAAN!


BONNIE GOLDBERG

A perfect summertime family treat, as light and frothy and rich and creamy as a strawberry parfait, is the current magnificent production of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical comedy “My Fair Lady” originally penned more than five decades ago. The Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s offering is perfection in its loverly way and should not be missed.  Hurry to Waveny Park in New Canaan by Saturday, July 7 for a new comfortable seat under their outdoor tent.

 

The transformation of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who sells violets for a tuppence in Covent Gardens, into a polished princess who is mistaken for Hungarian royalty, is a delightful tale. Jazmin Gorsline’s Eliza is superbly engaging and charming as the irrepressible Eliza, determined to improve herself under the tutelage of the demanding and controlling master of languages, Professor Henry Higgins. Higgins is played by an impressive and arrogant Richard Sheridan Willis, who takes Eliza on as a challenge, after his friend and colleague Colonel Pickering, a courtly and admirable Gary Harger, bets him he cannot make a lady out of a guttersnipe.

 

Higgins proceeds to take this “squashed cabbage leaf” who is “condemned by every syllable she utters” and teach her to speak, act and dress properly, so perfectly that he can pass her off as a Duchess. With her opportunistic rapscallion of a father (Brian Silliman) pushing her from the rear and the professor pulling her from the front, and Eliza’s own inner determination to succeed motivating her from within, the “delicious proposal” seems assured.

 

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” this Lerner-Loewe version is stuffed with wonderful tunes, from “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” to “I Could Have Danced All Night” to “On the Street Where You Live,” sung by Eliza’s suitor Freddie (Christian Libonati). Eliza’s dad charms us “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time” while the professor reveals his chauvinistic tendencies in “I’m an Ordinary Man” and his tenderness in “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”

 

Also in the outstanding cast are two women who boost Eliza’s spirits with their support, Anna Holbrook as Henry’s mother, who doesn’t approve of her son’s manners or modes of behavior, and Sandy York as his loyal housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce. Director Allegra Libonati takes us back to London at the turn of the twentieth century in this highly entertaining musical, on a clever revolving stage by Charles Pavarini III, with a fashion parade of costumes designed by Arthur Oliver.

 

For tickets ($35 and up) call the Summer Theatre of New Canaan at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org. Performances are Thursday -- Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The theater entrance is at 11 Farm Road, at the New Canaan High School entrance. Come early and picnic on the lawn.

 

Watch for their upcoming productions of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Pinkalicious, the Musical,” “Disney’s High School Musical 2 and “The Stars of Broadway Concert.”

 

Cheer for Eliza to pick herself out of the London gutters and polish her personality until she is the “toast” of the town, with a fine drizzle of orange marmalade on top.

 


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