Sunday, July 12, 2009

WVLO's My Fair Lady was Fantastic!

A group of us went to Saratoga to check out West Valley Light Opera's most recent production of My Fair Lady, written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.

Doug Baird did an outstanding  job with direction, as even with the minimalist sets, I was brought back to turn of the 20th century England.  While I expected to be jarred by the dreadful English accents, instead I found myself delighted at how I could really imagine all of these actors being from England.  Okay, my husband, who is actually English, said they weren't perfect, but on the other hand he did not find them jarring (and his father was born within the sound of Bow bells, so he knows a Cockney accent when he hears one).

Without even looking at the program, I could tell the wigs were the wonderful work of Ms Rande Harris, as the styles were spot on for the period.  Most impressive were the costumes and hats for the day at the races (Ascot), a fantastic job from Carol Clever and her long list of assistants (I'm pretty sure I recognized the handy work of Linda McKee and Richard Gaetono in there somewhere).

While there wasn't a ton of dancing, Jillian Toby-Cummings, as choreographer, did a good job getting everyone to go from street buskers from London, to Lords and Ladies at the ball.

Jade Shoejaee was fantastic and believable as Eliza Doolittle, changing her accent from a thick Cockney to a very intelligible East End lilt.  Linda McKee, as Mrs. Pearce, delighted us with her varied expressions, humorous dialog and constant costume changes.  Chris Blake had me laughing, uncontrollably, as Professor Zoltan Karpathy (the only actual English bloke in the cast... playing the Hungarian).

The Cockney quartet, (Chris Blake, Earl Masuda, Matt Tipton, and Peter Vigil) were lovely (or should I say, loverly?), and the ensemble was perfectly in tune for each scene, effortlessly taking the audience from the streets of London to the races at Ascot.  Speaking of Ascot, Kady Blake's delightful "slow walk" during that scene had me in stitches.

TJ Paganini, along with the other servants at the Higgins Estate, were top notch.  I also really enjoyed the leading gentleman, Kevin Kirby as Henry Higgins, and John Musgrave as Colonel Pickering.  Really, the entire cast was wonderful.

The show was essentially sold out on Friday night, and all of the matinees are as well, so I highly recommend you buy your tickets in advance (though I understand there are often no-shows, so you can always take a chance and show up at the theater directly).

The show is three hours long, but you would never notice, as it just keeps you laughing and humming along the entire time.

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