Well the Missus and I trundled downtown last night to see the Lyric Stage production of My Fair Lady and say, it was . . . fabulous.
(Bet you thought I was gonna say “loverly.” Well, it was that too.)
Mostly, though, it was an electrifying evening of theater bursting with energy and ingenious staging.
Jennifer Ellis is captivating as Eliza Doolittle, and Christopher Chew delivers an animated and surprisingly sympathetic Henry Higgins (versus the wooden Rex Harrison in the film version).
Special bonus: Chew can actually sing.
Here’s a taste:
Other standouts are J.T. Turner as Alfred P. Doolittle and Remo Airaldi as Colonel Pickering. But the whole ensemble is terrific – there’s not a false note in the entire production.
Overall, it’s a thoroughly delightful revival of the classic musical. But don’t just take my word for it. Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout fairly swooned over the Lyric Stage production.
By George, They’ve Got It!
This stripped-down version of Alan Jay Lerner’s musical makes the normally large-scale production shine by highlighting its expressive essentials
‘My Fair Lady,” that most scenically resplendent of golden-age Broadway spectacles, wouldn’t seem at first blush to be all that well suited to the small-scale approach that has lately become the most significant trend in American musical-theater production. But the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, whose compact 234-seat thrust-stage house can’t come anywhere near accommodating a traditional staging of “My Fair Lady,” has dared to perform the show on a unit set with a cast of 16, an orchestra of three and no amplification, and done so to immensely satisfactory effect. I’ve seen some fine “My Fair Ladies” in the past, but I’ve never seen one, not even Amanda Dehnert’s unforgettable school-of-Brecht 2013 Oregon Shakespeare Festival version, that did a better job of conveying the sweet romanticism that Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe slipped into George Bernard Shaw’s skewering of the British class system. The results are—as Lerner might have put it—loverly.
Beyond that, Teachout adds this:
The good news starts at the top: Jennifer Ellis is as strong an Eliza Doolittle as I’ve seen anywhere, including on screen. She sings beautifully and acts without exaggeration, leaving it to the score and script to work their magic.
No argument with the latter sentence. As for the former, well, the Missus and I respectfully disagree.
Maybe 20 years ago we found ourselves at the TKTS booth in New York with nothing in particular to see, and took a flyer on the production of My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain.
Eliza Doolittle was played by Melissa Errico, and, man, she was brilliant. (Best video I could find is Errico at the 1993 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it doesn’t do her justice.)
Regardless . . .
You really want to see the Lyric Stage production. But you’d better hurry – the run (through October 11) is almost sold out.