Classic musicals are built out of memorable songs, and “My Fair Lady” has a bunch of them.
Excerpt featuring Eliza singing: "All I Want Is A Home Somewhere…”
That’s actress Glory Crampton – a newcomer at Music Circus – as Eliza Doolittle, a street urchin with a smudge on her face, and a Cockney accent. Crampton does Eliza with a mix of gutsy nerve and emotional vulnerability, especially when she meets an imperious language expert who decides she needs a total makeover, starting with the way she talks.
Higgins: “I’ll make a duchess of this draggle-tailed guttersnipe… Take her upstairs and clean her and clean her, Mrs. Pierce…. Sandpaper, if it won’t come off any other way.”
Veteran actor Paul Schoeffler plays Professor Henry Higgins – a dictatorial academic who enjoys ordering other people around. His domineering way with women is the reason the Music Circus tags this show with a genteel warning about “antiquated views on women’s rights and roles” -- which is putting it mildly.
But with “My Fair Lady,” the show rises or falls on the music. And when Higgins finally gets Eliza speaking formal English, the breakthrough becomes a genuinely uplifting, soaring song.
(“The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly In The Plain”)
It felt so good I just had to smile, because the cast put some heart in it. And I liked Glenn Casale’s direction – including his decision not to activate the oft-used rotating feature of the Music Circus stage. An beloved old-school show like this one doesn’t need that effect.
So here’s my advice. If your only experience with “My Fair Lady” has been through TV, get off the sofa and try it live.
And if you know the show, but haven’t seen it in ages, treat yourself to this well-cast revival. The Lerner and Loewe score still shines bright, and when you mix in strong singing, colorful costumes and eye-catching dance numbers, this old chestnut still sets a standard that many newer jukebox musicals can’t quite match.
The Music Circus production of "My Fair Lady" continues through Sunday, June 14th at the Wells Fargo Pavillion.