My Fair Lady

...from the Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, IL) - 25 January 2008

RECOMMENDED

from the Chicago Sun-Times
reviewer - Hedy Weiss

"...Overall, director Trevor Nunn’s three-hour production has a decidedly lavish look, with an elaborate series of sets by Anthony Ward that deftly conjure Edwardian London, and with exceedingly stylized choreography by Matthew Bourne (the posh crowd at the Ascot races take on an anthropomorphic turn with high-stepping horse movements, and there is some “Stomp!”-like clogging with dustbin covers as pubgoers join in for a rousing “With a Little Bit of Luck”).

"Nunn also clearly has homed in on Shaw’s proto-feminist perspective, with Eliza Doolittle (Lisa O’Hare) even bumping into a group of placard-carrying Suffragettes at one point. And of course each of the male characters is hopelessly unsocialized in his particular way, including that professional bachelor, Professor Henry Higgins (Christopher Cazenove); his old-school linguist pal, Colonel Pickering (a most engaging Walter Charles); Eliza’s free-spirited Cockney dad, Alfred P. Doolittle (Tim Jerome, highly energetic but not quite droll enough, and often garbled in speech); and her useless, upper-crust suitor, Freddy (Justin Bohon, sweetly feckless and boyish).

"O’Hare (who is replaced by Dana DeLisa at matinees) is very much in the Audrey Hepburn mold -- leggy, slender, dark and a bit too elegant even from the start. But she moves like a dream (she is a dancer), and has both a natural charm (she is particularly funny in the Ascot scene), and a warm, “loverly” voice. The problem is that there is little palpable chemistry of any kind between her and Cazenove, whose Higgins is happily misogynistic and less than alluring even as a mentor. Their final stance in the show is one of mutual (if agreed upon) antagonism and grudging admiration -- far more defiant than romantic. A hint of ruefulness might have been nice, too.

"New to the cast in Chicago is Marni Nixon (famous as the film singing voice of Hepburn), who nailed several of her comic ripostes in the non-singing role of Higgins’ implacable mother.

"All in all, a very capable and exacting production, if not a wholly thrilling one, though anyone unmoved by that breakthrough moment, “The Rain in Spain,” surely has a heart of stone."