My Fair Lady has been one of my favorite productions for as long as I can remember. I’m a little old school… I was raised on My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and the like. So I was perfectly happy to be asked to attend Spanish Fork Community Theater’s production of the classic musical with Eliza Doolittle and her delicious cockney brogue.
My Fair Lady, with book and lyrics by Alan Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture ‘Pygmalion.’ Spanish Fork gives us a classic community theater production with help from neighboring businesses, a large support staff, and a huge cast with a broad range of age, education, and experience. The auditorium of the High School was filled on opening night with family, friends, and neighbors. I happened to visit a friend who lives next to the school the following night and from the looks of the parking lot, there were just as many seats filled for that night. And for good reason. This is a great production!
The core cast of Higgins, Doolittle, Pickering, and Mrs. Pearce, were marvelous. As soon as Shannon Eden, as Eliza Doolittle, sang the first “ Wouldn’t it be loverly,” I knew everything would be OK. Eden is about as perfect an Eliza as I’ve ever seen. She is small in stature and huge in spirit and voice. Let’s talk about that voice. Wow. Every syllable was natural and effortless. There was only one thing that could make me take my eyes off her, and that was Trevor Brackney as Henry Higgins.
What a treat! Brackney spoke quite perfectly, he sang quite perfectly, but more significant, he had a wonderful way of expressing himself through his body language. I was not surprised to learn he is an accomplished dancer, but I was surprised to discover that having a background in ballet could be so useful in portraying Professor Higgins. Seriously, I would go see this production again just to see Brackney perform “I’m an Ordinary Man,” one more time. Someone please record that and put it on YouTube just so I can get a fix every now and then. Possibly the most delightful performance I’ve seen in years and I’ve been to a lot of shows and sat in a lot of very expensive seats. When I try to describe his performance, I tend to end up with a sort of “Gah!” reaction, speechless. Just, go see him. Do it.
It took a few minutes for me to warm up to David Henry as Colonel Pickering, probably because he is so different than Higgins, but he filled the position perfectly. By his second scene I was completely charmed. Add Bonnie Harding, as the wise, motherly, patient Mrs. Pearce, and the scenes in the Higgins household were just plain wonderful.
And I certainly have to mention Ray Gwilliam as Alfred P. Doolittle and his silky low voice and effortless cockney shuffle.
The costuming (a job that, on this scale, would give me nightmares) was well done, especially the iconic Ascot scene. The men were exquisite in their tuxes, a thank you to sponsor Clarks Tuxedos I assume. Eliza and Mrs. Pearce were varied and beautiful. The set was very well done, filling the stage and moving flawlessly from Covent Garden, to Higgins home, toAscot, and so on. The scene changes were quick and quiet, carried out by what appeared to be and army of stage hands.
Adam Cannon’s directing was also well done. And I appreciate the little extra’s we got during the overture, and etc. Bravo, Mr. Cannon.
My Fair Lady plays at Spanish Fork High School July 19-21, 23, 26-28 (except 24th) at 7 pm, and July 28 at 1 pm. Tickets are $6 and $8 with a Family pass for $35, and can be purchased online at sfctonline.org, Boothe Brothers, SF City Parks and Rec office, or at the door.