Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

My Fair Lady
Signature Productions
Review by Mary LaFrance

Also see Mary's review of Heathers: The Musical


From left: Josh Meurer, Lance Earl, Lynsey Fullam, Joshua Meltzer, and Kaige Caswell
Photo by Teresa Isgriggs
My Fair Lady is a natural crowd pleaser, with a story that is rooted in Greek myth yet decidedly off-beat, brilliant source material (George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion), and marvelous book (Alan Jay Lerner), music (Frederick Loewe) and lyrics (Lerner). On the other hand, every production of this classic has big shoes to fill—our indelible memories of Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews (or Audrey Hepburn), and Stanley Holloway. Add the need for multiple interior and exterior sets, highly specific costume requirements, and convincing dialects, and the production company faces a formidable challenge.

This month's staging by Signature Productions succeeds on many fronts while falling short on others; it is a treat to watch, but never fully soars. A number of performers lack energy and precision; as a result, the show feels long, and in the dialogue-heavy penultimate scene, the actors' fatigue is noticeable. Slow line pickups are only part of the problem; imprecise movement and overly casual line deliveries, combined with a somewhat mushy sound system, prevent some of the best lines from hitting their marks. The lack of crispness in execution is especially noticeable in the Ascot Gavotte, where the eye-popping costumes are the star of the scene, rather than the comic rigidity of the patrons.

The score is beautifully sung, however, and that in itself makes for an enjoyable night out. Director Debora Boyd seems to have chosen the majority of the cast more for their singing abilities than for their acting or dancing skills, and Teresa Isgriggs' choreography is a bit on the cautious side, meaning that numbers which could be thrilling are merely pleasant—most notably, "With a Little Bit of Luck," "The Rain in Spain," and "Get Me to the Church on Time." In contrast, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" soars, with a perfect melding of voice and choreography.

Although the acting is uneven overall, the principal roles are well cast. In particular, Lynsey Fullam is a delight as Eliza Doolittle. Despite her petite frame, she commands attention with effortless stage presence, sustained energy, and economy of movement. She convincingly transforms from cockney flower girl to proper English gentlewoman, while making clear that Eliza's vulnerability and strong sense of self predate her mastery of vowels. Fullam is a gifted and subtle actress with fine comic timing, a beautiful singing voice, and a face that expresses every thought and emotion even when Eliza stands mute. Steve McMillan's Henry Higgins is a navel-gazing academic given to baggy cardigans and vague hand gestures, his eyes perpetually half-closed as though terrified of human connections. While this is a plausible take on the role, it distances Higgins from the audience, and McMillan's hit-or-miss comic timing too often deprives his insults of their sting. Nonetheless, his Higgins remains sympathetic, never more so than in his fine soliloquy "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face." Lou de Meis is charming as the lovable neer-do-well Alfred Doolittle, and Wayne Morton strikes the right notes of kindness and propriety as Colonel Pickering.

The set and costume designs, both uncredited, are stunning. Anyone who has visited Covent Garden will feel instantly transported there in the opening scene. Hair and make-up designs are also crucial to this show, and Alda Tomasic's work on both is highly effective.

My Fair Lady continues through April 30, 2016, (Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees April 16 and 23 at 2 pm) at the Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Dr., Las Vegas. For tickets ($30 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children 6-12) or further information, go to www.signatureproductions.net, or call 702-878-7529.

Cast
Eliza Doolittle: Lynsey Fullam
Freddy Eynsford-Hill: Adam Dunson
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: Harriett Losin
Colonel Pickering: Wayne Morton
Henry Higgins: Steve McMillan
Bartender: Jeff Fetterman
Harry: Lance Earl
Jamie: Josh Meurer
Harry/Jamie (understudy): Joshua Meltzer
Alfred P. Doolittle: Lou de Meis
Mrs. Pearce: Kathleen Etor
Butler: John Oblad
Mrs. Higgins: Faith Radford
Lord Boxington: Tony Rino
Lady Boxington: Annie Waggoner
Zoltan Karpathy: Adam Dunson

Additional Creative
Musical Direction by Shauna Oblad; Sound Design by Noah Goddard; Lighting Design by Erika Courtney.


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