My Fair Lady
by David A. Rosenberg
The world of “My Fair Lady” is certainly outside the ken of most viewers. Yet the musical -- and Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” on which it’s based -- draw us in by juxtaposing upper and lower classes, with envy enough to go round. Of course, it’s a socialist work, in keeping with the author’s politics but bedrocked in personal relationships.
The story of how a “guttersnipe” is transformed into a “lady,” touches the dreams of all who yearn. In the process, the teacher -- stuffy, intellectual, Henry Higgins -- becomes the one who’s taught by the open, emotional Eliza Doolittle.
In New Canaan, under Allegra Libonati’s lively, though sometimes over-literal direction, the cast steeps itself in the 19th-century London milieu and sings the superb Lerner/Loewe score with natural ease. Richard Sheridan Willis balances Higgins’ irascible outer shell with inner longing, while the excellent Jazmin Gorsline is always the lady beneath the lowly flower seller, as well as the reverse. Gary Harger is a very proper Pickering, Brian Silliman is a permanently pickled Alfred Doolittle and Anna Holbrook is a perfect Mrs. Higgins.
A nod to music director David Hancock Turner for his drilling of the chorus, although his orchestra could use another violin or two. And choreographer Doug Shankman has devised solid dances. It’s an enjoyable evening.
This review by Dave Rosenberg appeared in The Hour,