Book & Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Conducted by Roger L. Bingman
Choreographer by Stacey Flaster
Produced by Light Opera Works
At Cahn Auditorium
Nick Sandys gives a “perfect performance” as the star of the “perfect musical.”
Light Opera Works’ specializes in mounting fill scale, fully orchestrated productions faithful to the original so their formula is a rare opportunity to see (and hear) the “perfect musical.” My Fair Lady is my all-time favorite musical–containing a great score by Frederick Loewe, wonderful staging, with a bitingly witty book (by Alan Jay Lerner) based on Shaw’s Pygmalion. Add a cast of major talents and My Fair Lady unfolds as a complete work of art. It sets the benchmark for musicals.
I am happy to report that Rudy Hogenmiller’s current production, now in a short run at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, is a first-class show with a fine cast of new faces in the principal roles with Roger L. Bingaman’s 28 piece full orchestra deftly rendering Loewe’s original orchestrations. To me, what makes this production so crisp, so funny, so deeply moving are the smart performances by the key cast members.
Natalie Ford, as Eliza, of course, sings beautifully, and she adds terrific acting chops to the feisty flower girl with whom Higgins attempts to makes into a lady. Ford’s finest moments were as the growling flower girl, especially in the wonderful “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.” She also renders a moving version of “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Cary Lovett was a charming, free spirit and philosophical drunken Alfred P. Doolittle. Lovett leads his two show stoppers, “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get me to the Church on Time’ with zest. Stacey Flaster’s nimble choreography serves the show well.
Bill Chamberlain’s Colonel Pickering was aptly humorous and so British while Jeff MacMullen’s wonderfully nails “On the Street Where You Live.” Jill Van Brussell’s elegantly vivid costumes added elegance to the piece. However, in this production–the real star–who gives a younger and more romantic edge as Henry Higgins is Nick Sandys. Sandys, a great classic trained actor, was born to play Higgins–a role that necessitates an actor with a rich assortment of talent equally at home with the biting humor and wit of the Shavian style. Sandys effectively plays Higgins as both the arrogant, self-adsorbed bachelor and the lonely soul whose transformation is complete as he falls for Eliza. Sandys’ debonair, charming persona works to move the Higgins-Eliza relationship from a father-daughter to a man-women relationship. Nick Sandy’s nailed all aspects of Higgins deftly and, he demonstrates strong singing skills which is unusual for the role. Nick Sandys’ performance as Henry Higgins was fresh, complete and fully realized–he gave the finest performance I’ve witnessed this year!
Get to Cahn Auditorium soon to witness a most memorable mounting of My Fair Lady. You’ll see a fabulous performance by Nick Sandys as Professor Higgins.
At Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL, www.musictheaterworks.com, tickets $46- $67 – $88, Wednesday, August 19 at 2 pm, Friday, August 21 at 8 pm, Saturday, August 22 at 8 pm, Sunday, August 23 at 2 pm, Saturday, August 29 at 8 pm, Sunday, August 30 at 2 pm, running time is 3 hours with intermission.