'Fair Lady' a remarkable walk down memory lane
By Mike Pearson
Rocky Mountain News
Wouldn't it be loverly if all classic stage musicals were revived with as much attention to detail as attended the originals?
At least one theatergoer swore that was the case on opening night of My Fair Lady at the Buell Theatre Wednesday. She was overheard telling a companion that she'd seen the Julie Andrews version on Broadway in the 1950s when she was 12 years old. She loved it then. She loved it now.
The show premiered in a simpler time (1956, the Cold War notwithstanding), when Broadway eschewed politics for glamour and, mostly, gusto.
Both adjectives describe the show onstage at the Buell, which says as much about the talents of creators Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe, as about the contemporary British team that has assembled this remarkable walk down memory lane.
Trevor Nunn (Les Miserables), is the director, Matthew Bourne is the choreographer and Cameron Mackintosh (Miss Saigon) is the producer.
This production is marked by sumptuous costumes, clever sets, classic songs and a sense of pacing and pageantry that leaves you smiling ear to ear.
Set in early 20th century London, the plot finds gruff British linguist Henry Higgins (Christopher Cazenove) betting friend Col. Pickering (Walter Charles) that he can turn a street urchin into a duchess in six months. He can take her broken English language and refine it.
Enter Eliza Doolittle (Lisa O'Hare), a flower girl who wants to escape her impoverished circumstances. Little does she know that the demanding Higgins will bully her into self-betterment, and along the way that she'll develop a fondness for the educated brute.
No matter how brilliant the songs - and tunes like Wouldn't It Be Loverly, I Could Have Danced All Night and Get Me to the Church on Time stick in the mind like peanut butter - the delivery is critical.
No need to worry. Cazenove makes Henry Higgins a beautiful beast, Tim Jerome is a comic triumph as Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, and Lisa O'Hare is stunning as the flower girl in training to be a lady. When she descends a staircase in a white ball gown at the end of act one, you'll gasp at how much she resembles Audrey Hepburn.
The difference, of course, is that O'Hare has a voice to raise the roof. Hepburn's voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon - ironically in the cast here as Henry's no-nonsense mother.
My Fair Lady remains great entertainment. Sure, it's three hours long, but when you're this enthralled time can pass in the blink of an eye.
* Grade: A-