My Fair Lady

'My Fair Lady' rules at Peace Center - Greenville News (Greenville, NC) - 21 November 2007

'My Fair Lady' rules at Peace Center

By Ann Hicks, Greenville News

The British invasion that hit the stage with its irresistible "My Fair Lady" was a total victory Tuesday night at the Peace Center.

Mega impresario Cameron Mackintosh's 2001 re-imaging of Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical, helmed by legendary director Trevor Nunn, beats all other musicals seen lately in these parts.

It will keep you happy and interested throughout its three hours of song, dance and frolic.

But there is so much more in this intelligent production than entertainment for entertainment's sake.

Hewing close to the original G.B. Shaw play "Pygmalion," the British version of the play, while singing "loverly" tunes, wins with its spoken language -- most of it original Shaw.

And there's much to be chewed over in this tale of didactic drama about the power of language.

And about the gender politics (it's the early 20th century alive with suffragettes) that pit professor Henry Higgins (Christopher Cazenove), a misogynist bully who oozes privilege, against the strong, young Eliza Doolittle (Lisa O'Hare), who can dish slang, fight hard for herself and win at the end.

Cazenove is a first-rate actor and fits into Higgins' skin as if he were born to it.

As for O'Hare, she rules the stage.

She not only has beauty but also possesses a clear voice that rings like a bell with "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" "The Rain in Spain" and "I Could Have Danced All Night."

Every inch of the production is superbly designed in a bluesy mood by Anthony Ward, and "The Lady" leaps, stomps and thrills with the choreography of two-time Tony winner Matthew Bourne.

The show's strong supporting cast brims with energy, from Walter Charles' fussy Col. Pickering to the fabulous Tim Jerome as Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza's loveable, roguish father.

Sally Ann Howes is a most proper Mrs. Higgins, and Justin Bohon does very well as the weakling Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Eliza's suitor.

Kudos go to the rest of the large cast, which dazzles the audience at every turn it gets. My suggestion is simple: See it. Just seven more shows remain. For tickets, call 467-3000.