If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

Henry & Eliza Welcome Summer Theatre Season


If a production of “My Fair Lady” isn’t some sort of sign of summer theatre, it should be. The musical, currently seen to fairly good advantage at the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, is just in time to make your summer a tad sunnier.


“My Fair Lady” opens the Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s 9th season under a broad white tent in Waveny Park. It’s a pleasant, unpretentious revival with seating for theatergoers to picnic early and enjoy the cool summer evening breezes with their Lerner and Loewe. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”, the timeless tale of how the rigid Professor Henry Higgins (an exactly right Richard Sheridan Willis) turns Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Jazmin Gorsline, all charm) into a society lady never fails to entertain. With music by Frederick Loewe and those delicious book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, “My Fair Lady” is that musical classic that deserves a revival at least once a year.


At New Canaan, the musical is in able hands with its leading players under the direction of Allegra Libonati. If members of the supporting company aren’t quite in the same league, neither are they a hindrance or distraction to the overall success of the production. With simple but nicely painted sets by Charles Pavarini III and impressive costuming by Arthur Oliver, the Ascot sequence of the musical is, in particular, not only very well staged and performed, but great to look at, too.


I might wish that Libonati would have found more credible use of the odd staircase-to-nowhere in Higgins’ study or that more energy would exude from Eliza’s father, the boisterous Alfred P. Doolittle (Brian Silliman), during his book scenes. But Anna Holbrook may be one of the best “Mrs. Higgins” -- Henry’s disapproving mum -- that I’ve ever seen and the small orchestra under musical director David Turner sounds like twice its size.  All and all, quite a loverly production.


“My Fair Lady” continues at the Summer Theatre of New Canaan through July 7. For further information and ticket reservations, call the theatre box office at 203.966.4634 or visit: www.stonc.org.


Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.



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