My Fair Lady
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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
My Fair Lady
The company which rotates its talented repertory of performers from show to show has wisely opted to once again cast Paul Gregory Nelson as the leading man. Nelson is a charmer who gives new resonance to the curmudgeonly bachelor with a heart just waiting to be captured. He sings as well as he acts and I wouldn't be surprised to hear big things about him one of these days. Daphne Smith brings a fine soprano voice to Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl who ends up teaching her mentor a thing or two. The supporting cast is too large to mention in detail though Jim Kidd's Alfred P. Doolittle is truly a standout.
Like all the seven musicals the Mac-Haydn is mounting to celebrate the final year of the 20th Century, My Fair Lady is so familiar that it needs no plot summary. But while the story and songs are familiar, the Mac-Haydn staging is inventive enough to make this production a new experience. The way scenic designer Jason Lee Courson has managed to mount multiple sets on the tiny circular stage gives new meaning to the word resourcefulness. A small army of stage hands moves furniture (built to scale at the theater) on and off the stage for the various locales without a mishap, though the extensive prop movements do add at least twenty minutes to the proceedings. Aisles serve not only for the movement of scenery, but to extend the stage for the ensemble so that the audience is literally wrapped in their voices. While there's also a small runway the dance numbers all take place on the basic circular stage. Its size fazes neither director and choreographer Joseph Paston or his cast whose several big production numbers are especially good.
City folks expecting a homespun country barn musical are in for yet another surprise: The costumes. Higgins' tweedy suit and hat, the gowns for the races and the big ball, the servants' uniforms and the flower girls and other Cockneys' outfits -- the little elves who helped Nelson Fields assemble all this splendor have done some Broadway-worthy work here. And, yes, there is a home spun, country barn flavor that is very much what the Mac-Haydn is about.