Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
MY FAIR LADY has always been a favorite of mine. Based on Shaw’s PYGMALION, it’s the story of a poor flower girl, disdained by all, who grows into a woman who garners everyone’s respect, most importantly her own. It’s an arc that fits neatly into the struggle of many women for self-realization and esteem – one I responded to as a child long before I became politically astute enough to understand why. Notwithstanding Eliza’s earlier blind crush on an undeserving male, I’m guessing other feminists feel the same.
Which is why I’m happy to report that the Lincoln Center touring version now at the Dolby Theatre through October 31 is quite a good one. The production features a lovely Shereen Ahmed as the strong and spirited Eliza, Laird Mackintosh as the obtuse Higgins, and Adam Grupper as Stanley Doolittle, Eliza’s father and a shameless ne-er-do-well who gets his peculiar comeuppance when Higgins recommends him to the powers-that-be as a philosopher of the first order.
Under Bartlett Sher’s direction, the characterizations are fresh and pretty much without flaw, and they’re paired with top quality vocals — especially Ahmed’s, whose high notes ring out as cool and crystal clear as a bell. Sam Simahk, as Eliza’s suitor Freddie Eynsford-Hill, performs a soaring heartfelt rendition of On the Street where You Live, true testament to any lover’s devotion. Filling a variety of roles, the background players lend solid support. Catherine Zuber’s costumes aptly delineate the rigid class divisions and wealth inequality so glaringly dominant in Britain in the early 20th century.
But the directorial gambit that capped the night for this critic came at the show’s crowning moment. In the film Eliza and Higgins reach an impasse; the newly independent Eliza still cannot decide whether to go or stay. No such timorousness besets the heroine here; she makes her choice and strides from the stage.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
DOLBY THEATRE 6801 Hollywood Blvd | Los Angeles, CA 90028: Tuesday – Friday at 8pm Saturday at 2pm & 8pm Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. Please note: There is no evening performance on Sunday, October 31.
In Person: Dolby Theatre Box Office or Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office. Visit website for current box office hours.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required.
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