My Fair Lady at Paramount Theatre Aurora

Book & Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

Music by Frederick Loewe

Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion

Directed & Choreographed by Jim Corti

Music direction by Shawn Stengel

At Paramount Theatre, Aurora

Fabulous, lush and brilliant production of the great musical – My Fair lady awaits

Leave it to Jim Corti to open the new Broadway series of musicals at the wonderful 1800 seat Paramount Theatre in Aurora with a major production of the finest Broadway musical ever- My Fair Lady! With a cast of 31 and a 22 member orchestra , Corti has established an exquisite standard of excellence for his new Broadway series. His production is a sumptuous, funny, witty and romantic take on Edwardian English society filled with colorful costumes, memorable songs and marvelous preferences.  Corti’s production is equal, if not a tad finer, than the major national tour that played in Chicago a few years ago.

Paramount - My Fair Lady

Anchoring the show is the commanding Nathan M. Hosner as Henry Higgins with the golden voiced Andrea Prestinario as the feisty flower girl who wants to learn to speak more “gentile.” These two  winning performances with yeoman work by John Reeger (Colonel Pickering), Paula Scrofano (Mrs Pearce) and the whimsical dance-inspired turn by Andrew J. Lupp as Alfred P. Doolittle made Corti’s My Fair Lady a major musical triumph.

Paramount - My Fair Lady

The show has all the ingredients of the original – wonderful lighting (Michael Rouke), fine sets (by Jim Dardenne) and a expert musical direction featuring a lush sounding 22 member orchestra conducted by Shawn Stengel.  All the favorite numbers are beautifully staged from “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” lead by the quartet of Adam Estes, Mike Erickson, Jay Reynolds and Liam Quealy with Andrea Prestinario instantly winning our hearts.

Paramount - My Fair Lady

The hard-living Alfred celebrates his luck with the rousing British musical hall show-stopper “With A Little Bit of Luck” that features cute dance steps by Andy Lupp and his drinking partners (Bobby Johnson and Carl Draper).

Paramount - My Fair Lady

John Reeger added wonderful comic touches to the ever-proper Colonel Pickering. James Lee Glatz sang “On the Street Where You Live” with romantic gusto. Mary Ernster was terrific as Mrs. Higgins.

Paramount - My Fair Lady

But the show belongs to Nathan M. Hosner who so strongly commands the stage with his size and acting chops. He nails his talk-songs (“I’m an Ordinary Man,” ” Hymn to Him”) and the emotional show ending song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” with deep conflicting feelings loaded with truth. His chemistry with Andrea Prestinario (who sing brilliantly in this ‘breakout performance’) is seething with submerged romantic sparks.

Paramount - My Fair Lady

Prestinario nicely plays Eliza with enough spunk and vulnerability to be most effective. Her voice was rich especially in “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Show Me.” Andy Lupp and his pals lead him to his last night out in the catchy show-stopper “Get Me to the Church on Time.”  Jim Corti added some cute steps to this fun number. The ensemble added depth to these tunes.

Paramount theatre - myf air lady

The lavish sets, gorgeous score, witty lyrics, fine period costumes and the spirited performances makes Paramount Theatre’s inaugural Broadway musical a high standard affair that instantly gives Paramount credibility. We need a western suburban theatre such as the 1800 seat large proscenium  stage Paramount Theatre to succeed so that large-scale classic musical can be offered outside of downtown Chicago with our home-grown talents. Kudos to Jim Corti and Executive Director Tim Rater for setting a high benchmark with their fabulous production of My Fair Lady. This show is worth the ride out to Aurora. With low ticket prices and a base of 10,000 subscribers, the Broadway series is off to a flying start.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: September 16, 2011

At the Paramount Theatre, 23 East Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL,  call 630-896-6666, tickets $34.90 – $46.90, Wednesdays at 1:30 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5 pm, running time 3 hours, 20 minutes with
intermission, through October 2, 2011

Rex Harrison as Higgins from the film