Sunday, February 1, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Lovely’ to see Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Production of My Fair Lady?

‘Wouldn’t It Be Lovely’ to see Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Production of My Fair Lady?

By Megan Grabowski

Benjamin Howes as Henry Higgins and Kimberly Doreen Burns as Eliza Doolittle

 Have the winter doldrums set in?  ‘Wouldn’t it be Lovely’ to lose yourself in the transcendence of a classic musical production?  This
can be done by taking a trip to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and attending a showing of Pittsburgh Public Theaters My Fair Lady. 
The unforgettable musical score by Lerner and Lowe is just what the soul needs as a pick me up during a long dreary Pittsburgh winter.  From the overture through the final number the lightheartedness of the music fills the O’Reilly Theater with instant warmth of familiarity and enduring notes.  Audience members will have no difficulty transcending everyday strife and the drudgery of work and familial obligations to lose themselves in 1912 London.   The captivating cast of characters charms the audience with the carefree musical score and heartwarming rags to riches story.

First row left to right: John Little, Kimberly Doreen Burns, Susan McGregor-Laine, Benjamin Howes

It took a handful of lines before my mind adjusted to the eruption of cockney accents on stage but Eliza Doolittle, played by Kimberly Doreen Burns, easily glides between two worlds; one the disenfranchised flower- girl, the other, a lady who manages to jump beyond the bourgeois class and directly into the upper echelons of society by means of rigorous training provided by linguist Henry Higgins, played by Benjamin Howes and Colonel Pickering, portrayed by John Little. 

 Left to right: Benjamin Howes, Kimberly Doreen Burns, John Little

A bet is made between Higgins and Pickering.  Within six months’ time the professor of phonetics will transform Miss Doolittle from gutter girl into a respectable aristocrat.  The final test will be to pass her off as a duchess at the Embassy Ball.  The compassionate
Colonel and the harsh Higgins get right to work, drilling Miss Doolittle night and day, around the clock, until her phonetics become articulate and proper.  Miss Doolittle, physically and mentally exhausted, finally reaches her turning point when she annunciates, “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain” with exaggerated long A’s.  This scene is most memorable as two highly recognized songs, ‘The Rain in Spain’ as well as ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ follow each other in a succession of musical sweetness.

Center: Bill Nolte

What is so special about My Fair Lady? After all, it’s the classic story retold over and over throughout theater, film and literature,
the underprivileged gets a lucky break and a taste of the good life through some type of alteration.  It’s a feel good story, with some old- fashioned humor which further enhances its’ charm.  If the audience is not familiar with the era or not ready to lose themselves in the manner of the musical, some lyrics could cause a raised eyebrow or two, such as the in the songs, ‘I’m an Ordinary Man’ and ‘A Hymn to Him’.  Not for a moment does this stop me from humming along to the catchy melodies, or admiring the wonderful harmonizing of the ensemble.  Burns voice is delightful, whether
singing as a proper lady or as the poor street peddler. The supporting cast, specifically Joe Jackson as Freddy, Bill Nolte as Alfred P. Doolittle and Terry Wickline as Mrs. Pearce are strong characters who effortlessly carry the show from scene to scene with their seasoned vocal talents and skillful theatrics.  The costumes are stunning; rich hues, parasols and ascots boost the mood of the depicted occasions. It is a fun evening of escapism.

 Directed and choreographed by Ted Pappas, well acquainted with Pittsburgh winters, he chose a cheery musical that will surely seize the spirit and, if for just a few hours, take our minds off the snow and bleakness waiting outdoors.

‘With a Little Bit of Luck’, you will make it to the Pittsburgh Public Theater for a performance of My Fair Lady. The show runs from January 22 through February 22, 2015 at the O’Reilly Theater.

Tickets can be purchased here

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.

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