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My Fair Lady

a Musical
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Alan Jay Lerner (words) & Frederick Loewe (music)

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Jennie T. Anderson Theatre-Cobb Civic Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5119

SHOWING : August 18, 2017 - September 03, 2017

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

This show is the stan­dard by which all oth­er musi­cals are mea­sured. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play "Pyg­malion," with book, music and lyrics by Lern­er and Loewe, MY FAIR LADY is glo­ri­ous­ly tri­umphant. The tale of a cock­ney flower girl trans­formed into an ele­gant lady fea­tures one of musi­cal theatre’s great­est scores. Songs include “Wouldn’t It Be Lover­ly?,” “With a Lit­tle Bit of Luck,” “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and “I’ve Grown Accus­tomed to Her Face.”


CAST & CREW LIST
Bartender/Ensemble Jarius Cliett
Eliza Doolittle Rebecca Galen Crawley
Alfred Doolittle George Deavours
Ensemble Fenner Eaddy
Ensemble Brittany Ellis
Ensemble Arielle Geller
Mrs. Higgins Karen Howell
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill Barbara Macko
Prof. Zoltan/Jamie/Ensemble J. Koby Parker
Ensemble Laura Reboulet
Ensemble Hayden Rowe
Lady Boxington/Ensemble Lauren Tatum
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REVIEWS

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Only Fair
by playgoer
Friday, August 25, 2017
3.0
Atlanta Lyric’s "My Fair Lady" is a curiously mixed bag. Nothing is downright horrible about the production, but several elements under par for the organization -- set, costumes, and choreography, to name a few. On the other hand, there are some magnificent elements, particularly the performances of Galen Crawley as a spirited, independent Eliza Doolittle; George Deavours as her cheerily bankrupt father (bankrupt both monetarily and morally); and Chris Saltalamacchio as an angel-voiced, quirkily endearing Freddy Eynsford-Hill.

Physically, the production is merely okay. The base set, designed by Lee Shiver-Cerone, is a stepped platform upstage with the twin pianos half-surrounded by rotating birdcage-like structures. The one on stage left is lovely. The stage right one, using a different pattern, seems a bit more ramshackle, with leaning support posts. Drops and set pieces in front of this platform suggest different locations. Most work well, despite a picture frame way off the level in Higgins’ study and a backdrop for the Ascot scene that resembles the Japanese Imperial flag.

Ben Rawson’s lighting design is no better, with odd brightening at times and distracting dim spots on the stage at others. Spotlight operation seems a bit of a ragtag operation. Most of the action is visible, and that’s about all you can say.

Susan McCluskey’s props and George Deavours’ wigs are all fine, but Amanda Edgerton West’s costumes impress less and less as the show goes on. Buskers’ costumes are impressive in the initial scene, and the black-and-white dresses of the Ascot scene are just what one would expect. At the Embassy ball, however, the costumes are bland. Eliza’s costume is particularly bad, with its slightly puffed shoulders and a fairly tight necklace giving the impression that she has no neck. Ms. Crawley is a lovely woman, if not statuesque, but that costume makes her look squat. Costumes for the men seem to be well-fitting.

John McKenzie’s sound design works well, with dialogue and songs clearly audible. The twin pianos never overpower the singers. Music director Paul Tate gets sterling vocals from the entire cast, and there’s hardly an "off" note in the piano playing done by him and Bob Amar.

Director Scott Seidl has blocked the show adequately, although some exits from Higgins’ studio don’t use the stair unit, to facilitate its movement at the end of scenes. His main failing as a director, though, is in the shape of the character relationships. We have a sweetly strong Colonel Pickering in the performance of Rob Roper and a spot-on performance by Karen Howell as Mrs. Higgins, so Eliza has strong support from her allies. Ms. Crawley’s character has a feistiness that contrasts nicely with Mr. Saltalamacchio’s fawning deference as Freddy. But Mark Bradley Miller, as Henry Higgins, projects a distasteful colorlessness, making his derogatory statements toward Eliza seem willfully malicious rather than the unfiltered comments of a socially inept gentleman. His fine singing can’t make up for that, and the final moment of the musical falls flat.

The ensemble is mostly very young, which means that several of the minor roles are played by people decades from the appropriate age. That throws things a bit off. Barbara Macko is age-appropriate as Mrs. Eynsford-Hill, but none of her supposed social equals are. The ensemble in general does a workmanlike job of getting through the show, but without a lot of finesse. The exception is Lauren Brooke Tatum, whose spirit and energy shine from the stage in every tiny role she takes on. Choreographer Ashley Chasteen has raw talent to work with in the young ensemble, but seems to have targeted most of the movement to the least nimble of the dancers. That turns dance breaks into lackluster time-fillers.

"My Fair Lady" is a time-tested triumph of a musical, with a strong storyline from George Bernard Shaw’s "Pygmalion" and a strong score from Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. Those elements come through in Atlanta Lyric’s production, but the heart at the center of the show seems hollow. Without a Higgins we come to care about, the story lacks an uplifting quality. We care so much about Eliza in Galen Crawley’s sweet and comic portrayal that we want more for her than any male in the story can offer. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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