Fireside way more than fair with 'My Fair Lady'
Supporting as well as lead actors are smashing
Laura Cable as Eliza Doolittle and Steven Lane as Henry Higgins in the Covent Garden scene of Fireside Dinner Theatre's production of "My Fair Lady."
Photo courtesy of MFL-CoventGarden
FORT ATKINSON - The success of "My Fair Lady" hinges on the casting of its complex main characters, Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, who must be capable of expressing multiple emotions and capable vocalists.
Fireside Dinner Theatre obviously found two actor-musicians, Laura Cable and Steven Lane, who were more than capable of delivering a smashing performance in the musical based on George Bernard Shaw's quality story "Pygmalion."
Add to their capabilities a very creative choreographer (Shanna VanDerwerker) directing some very adept dancers, some strong melodic vocalists under the direction of Mary Ehlinger, plus several other actors who fulfilled their roles with aplomb, and you have a show that didn't miss a beat for almost three hours of mesmerizing entertainment.
Henry Higgins, a man obsessed with the English language and its proper use, a man of bombast and arrogance, and also a man who is quite oblivious at times of the effect he is having on others, is very well captured by Lane.
We grow to have the same love-hate relationship with him that Eliza has as he tries to re-make her, to shape her into a successful "project" for his benefit.
Colonel Pickering, well rendered by Michael Haws, serves as Higgins' foil, a more thoughtful gentleman, though a bit of a bumbler. Higgins' maid, Mary Jane Guymon as Mrs. Pearce, also tries to provide a softer touch in the treatment of Eliza, the linguistic experiment.
I loved Glory Kissel as Henry's mother. She provided a lot of humor in attempting to re-fashion her son into someone she could be proud of and be seen with in public. She was less successful than Henry was, however.
Alan Ball also did his part in enacting another character that Shaw liked but was making fun of as well. Alfred P. Doolittle was just another example of Shaw's habit of creating men who fell far short of the women he fashioned.
The costumes, especially in the scene at the Ascot Race Track, and Eliza's gown at the ball, were stunning. I liked the way all the attendants at the horse races, except, of course for Eliza, were stolid and restrained while she reacted with vigor to the excitement - interesting contrast.
The music and lyrics of the many memorable songs are both clever and beautiful.
Higgins' "I'm an Ordinary Man" was as amusing as his final admission "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" was heartrending.
Eliza's spunky "Just You Wait" and her sarcastic "Without You" both revealed her anger as well as her lovely "I Could Have Danced All Night" revealed her attraction. There's probably not another musical in the world that depicts the love-hate feelings that accompany every close relationship better than this one does.
Well cast, well executed, outstanding in every way. Don't miss this one. It may well be the best production of this musical that I've ever seen, and I've seen it often.
"My Fair Lady"
The musical runs through April 7 at Fireside Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. Call 800-477-9505 or visit www.firesidetheatre.com.