A Glorious MY FAIR LADY at Crighton Theatre

Sara Preisler as Eliza PHOTO: Michael Pittman

Sara Preisler as Eliza
PHOTO: Michael Pittman

[ Click Any Photo to Enlarge ]

It’s literally “off to the races,” for another Stage Right blockbuster with the arrival of the current production of MY FAIR LADY at the Crighton Theatre. Director, Manny Cafeo, has done it again with another splashy Crighton success in the tradition of his earlier productions of “Lend Me a Tenor,” “The Producers,” and one of my own personal favorites, 2015’s, “Singin’ in the Rain.” That latter starred the gifted actress and talented songbird, Sara Preisler. How fortunate we are that Mr. Cafeo has chosen her for this portrayal of heroine, Eliza Doolittle, in the Frederick Loewe (Music) and Alan Jay Lerner (Book & Lyrics) musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s classic comedy “Pygmalion.” By way of full disclosure, I am proud to be a member of America’s oldest theatre club, The Lambs, and it was there in 1950’s New York that members Lerner & Loewe began development of this legendary musical that would break all existing box office records of the day.

Eliza with her father, Alfred Doolittle (Travis Bryant) PHOTO: Dave Clements

Eliza with her father, Alfred Doolittle (Travis Bryant)
PHOTO: Dave Clements

The familiar plot is the Cinderella-like tale of a poor girl who makes her way in the world by selling flowers on the streets of London, but later moves on to a life of wealth and glamour. Her journey begins on a rainy evening as the upper classes are departing the opera house. (The London fog is beautifully captured by Lighting Designer, Steven Wong).

Michael R. Martin as Professor Higgins PHOTO: Dave Clements

Michael R. Martin as Professor Higgins
PHOTO: Dave Clements

Just outside, there is a chance meeting on the street as Professor of Phonetics, Henry Higgins (Michael R. Martin), exits the building and overhears the distinctive Cockney dialect of Eliza (Miss Preisler) trying to sell her flowers to passersby.

Jim King as Col. Pickering PHOTO: Dave Clements

Jim King as Col. Pickering
PHOTO: Dave Clements

Higgins, in fascination, begins making notes on her speech peculiarities, infuriating the indignant Eliza. Overhearing this, coincidentally, is Colonel Pickering (an aristocratic performance from Jim King), a fellow linguist who specializes in Indian dialects. The gents quickly become friends, and Pickering takes up residence in Higgins’ lovely townhouse (One of the many elegant, charming, and easy-to-move set designs from Deanie Harmon Boy.)

Eliza meets the Queen (Deanie Harmon Boy) PHOTO: Dave Clements

Eliza meets the Queen (Deanie Harmon Boy)
PHOTO: Dave Clements

With dreams of one day owning her own flower shop, Eliza soon comes calling in search of speech lessons in hopes of learning “proper” English. When Higgins boasts that he could teach this girl to speak so beautifully he could pass her off in society as a duchess, Pickering quickly challenges him with a wager, and so the fun begins.

But enough about plot details and on to the acting talent, comic skill, musical excellence, choreographic mastery and overall artistry demonstrated by cast & crew under Cafeo’s fine leadership.

The Cast of MY FAIR LADY Photo: Dave Clements

The Cast of MY FAIR LADY
Photo: Dave Clements

Of course the familiar and beautiful songs sustain what could be an overlong theatre experience for a show ending just after 11 p.m. The very articulate Mr. Martin gave us a thoroughly believable professor of phonetics, and his vocal skill was best displayed in Act One with songs like “I’m an Ordinary Man,” and a “Why Can’t the English?” that was beautifully supported by the talented ensemble. (Music Director, Ana Guirola Ladd, Vocal Coach, Layne Roberts). With her wonderfully trained voice, the award-winning Miss Preisler was sensational with a dreamy, “Wouldn’t it be Loverly,” a fierce “Just You Wait,” and a triumphant, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” that had her performing with the grace of a swan and the voice of an angel.

Austin Colburn as Freddy PHOTO: Dave Clements

Austin Colburn as Freddy
PHOTO: Dave Clements

Austin Colburn plays Eliza’s eager young suitor, Freddy, and brings a resounding voice to the song, “On the Street Where You Live.”

Travis Bryant as Doolittle PHOTO: Dave Clements

Travis Bryant as Doolittle
PHOTO: Dave Clements

Travis Bryant brings uproarious fun to the role of Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle, bringing the house down when he joins the ensemble chorus for the cheerful tunes, “With a Little Bit of Luck,” and “I’m Getting married in the Morning.” There was more comic fun from Carolyn Wong as Henry’s mother, Mrs. Higgins. Carolyn and Stage Right Co-Producer, Steven Wong, her husband, are to be commended for so successfully handling the synchronized sound designs for a production featuring recorded orchestrations that could have been problematic, but happily were not.

The Dancers PHOTO: Michael Pittman

The Dancers
PHOTO: Michael Pittman

The Servants PHOTO: Dave Clements

The Servants
PHOTO: Dave Clements

Adding to the glow of this absolute gem was the imaginative choreography from designer, Dinah Mahlman, so beautifully executed by the talented cast of dancers and household servants. But perhaps the ultimate touch comes from the exquisite costume designs of Debbie Preisler. They were nothing short of stunning. If you don’t believe me, just check out the delightful Act 1, Scene 5 at the Ascot Racetrack. Didn’t I promise you that we were, “off to the races?”

Cast of MY FAIR LADY Photo: Dave Clements

Cast of MY FAIR LADY
Photo: Dave Clements

“My Fair Lady,” continues weekends thru Feb. 26th at Conroe’s Crighton Theatre, 234 N. Main. Performances are 8pm Fridays & Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2pm. For tickets and information call (936) 441-7469 or visit the website at www.stage-right.org/.

Advertisements

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the Lambs Club, he is also editor of The Lambs' Script. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic@earthlink.net.
This entry was posted in Alan Jay Lerner, Broadway, BroadwayStars.com, Crighton Theatre, Frederick Loewe, My Fair Lady, The Courier Columns, The TICKET, ThePeoplesCritic.com, YourHoustonNews.com and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Glorious MY FAIR LADY at Crighton Theatre

  1. Michael B. Byrne says:

    An excellent review, my erudite cousin!

  2. sallybentley says:

    If that doesn’t sell out each performance, nothing will! They should videotaped it, so I can watch!. Loverly job!​

    On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 2:12 AM, The People’s Critic wrote:

    > The People’s Critic posted: ” [ Click Any Photo to Enlarge ] It’s > literally “off to the races,” for another Stage Right blockbuster with the > arrival of the current production of MY FAIR LADY at the Crighton Theatre. > Director, Manny Cafeo, has done it again with another splashy Crig” >

  3. Rebhun, Herbert says:

    GREAT!!!! GREAT!!! Review. Rose and I are going to see it this Sunday so I was hoping you would have had seen it and had a review on it. Looking forward to seeing it.

    ________________________________

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s