‘My Fair Lady’ still one of the greatest musicals ever
By Betty Mohr, Daily Southtown Star
When it debuted in 1956, “My Fair Lady” was considered by many to be one of the greatest musicals of its time.
Now, more than 50 years later, in a reinvigorated revival on stage at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe masterpiece proves to be one of the greatest musicals of our time, as well.
In its reincarnation, George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” tale still centers on the view that class is determined by how we speak, and its battle of the sexes still retains all of the Irish-born playwright’s irreverent wit.
But, under Trevor Nunn’s inventive direction, the story of linguistics professor Henry Higgins’ wager to turn cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady is more exuberant than ever.
Unlike some presentations that tour on the cheap, nothing has been spared in this production.
From the dazzling white and diamond gown Eliza wears at the Embassy Ball to the disk-shaped black hat that covers her head in the “Ascot Gavotte” scene, the costuming by Anthony Ward dazzles with lavish styling.
Matt Kinley’s sets are lush with rich detail as they move from Higgins’ library to a music hall pub and to London streets.
And Matthew Bourne’s stunning choreography is a sizzling high point. Indeed, Bourne’s percussive street stomp, in which dancers kick up their heels with dustbin lids on their feet, is a show- stopper.
Of course, Lerner and Loewe’s romantic music, conducted by James Lowe, is so lyrical that the melodies reverberate in one’s head long after the curtain comes down.
The performances by a superb ensemble also are unforgettable.
Christopher Cazenove (who portrayed Ben Carrington in television’s “Dynasty”) makes for a compelling Henry Higgins.
We are completely enthralled by his portrayal of the misogynist bachelor, especially when he croons “I’m an Ordinary Man” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
Lisa O’Hare is captivating as Eliza. Not only does she deliver a soaring turn with “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” “Just You Wait” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” she is a fine actress as well.
The supporting cast also stands out.
Justin Bohon delivers a delicious “On the Street Where You Live”; Marni Nixon (who was the singing voice of Eliza in the film starring Audrey Hepburn) is charming as Henry Higgins’ long-suffering mother, and Walter Charles does a fine job as Colonel Pickering.
And Tim Jerome is a hoot as Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle, who, “With a Little Bit of Luck,” fights a losing battle against middle-class morality.
‘My Fair Lady’
When: Through Feb. 3
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Tickets: $25 to $75
Information: Call (312) 902-1400 or visit www.broadway inchicago.com