Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

PlayMakers Repertory Company’s My Fair Lady Is Fresh and Enlightening

Mia Pinero makes an auspicious PRC debut as Eliza Doolittle (photo by HuthPhoto)

Mia Pinero makes an auspicious PRC debut as Eliza Doolittle (photo by HuthPhoto)

Since it first appeared on Broadway in 1956, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe’s My Fair Lady has been a success with audiences everywhere. The famous musical, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion tells the story of iconic character Eliza Doolittle, a poor Cockney flower seller living in 1912 London who sees a chance to improve her own position in life when she meets Professor Henry Higgins, a man consumed with his study of phonetics. When Eliza asks (read begs) the professor to provide her with speech lessons, he agrees, all in an effort to prove that he can and to win a bet with his friend, Colonel Pickering.

PlayMakers version of this classic musical, onstage now under the direction of Tyne Rafaeli, is just as charming and fun as one would expect, giving homage to classic productions of the show while also adding in subtle, modern undertones that really drive home what many have long failed to realize: My Fair Lady, though often billed as such, is anything but sexist or anti-feminist, and instead, is about the power of women and of Eliza in particular.

The PRC production of My Fair Lady stars (from left) Ray Dooley as Colonel Pickering, PRC newcomer Mia Pinero as Eliza Doolittle, and Jeffrey Blair Cornell as Henry Higgins (photo by Jon Gardiner)

The PRC production of My Fair Lady stars (from left) Ray Dooley as Colonel Pickering, PRC newcomer Mia Pinero as Eliza Doolittle, and Jeffrey Blair Cornell as Henry Higgins (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Part of the “power” of this production lies in careful direction by Rafaeli, who never misses a chance to allow Eliza’s character, in all its richness and boldness, to shine through and take over the stage. The other part is owed largely to the strength and ferocity Mia Pinero lends to her role as the title character. She is not alone in strong performance skills, however. Ray Dooley is lovable and grandfatherly in his role as the kindhearted Colonel Pickering while Jeffrey Blair Cornell is not afraid to make Professor Higgins as miserable and detestable a character as he was written to be.

That is not to say that this production is all seriousness and severity, however. There are plenty of light moments as well. Indeed, Gary Milner steals the show time and time again with his rousing, endearing portrayal of Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s ne’er-do-well father who has a penchant for drinking. Milner nails each of the musical numbers he is given, even taking such daring and bold chances of sliding down the higher eaves of the theater.

In addition to such stellar performances and the strong but not heavy-handed manifestation of the show’s more serious themes, this production also nails the musical and costuming components as well. In short, this is definitely not a production of My Fair Lady to miss. Even if one has seen the show a dozen times before, this innovative production is sure to bring something new to light.

Gary Milner makes his PRC debut as Eliza's father, dustman Alfred P. Doolittle (photo by HuthPhoto)

Gary Milner makes his PRC debut as Eliza’s father, dustman Alfred P. Doolittle (photo by HuthPhoto)

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents MY FAIR LADY at 7:30 p.m. April 12-14, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 15, 2 p.m. April 16, 7:30 p.m. April 18-22, 2 p.m. April 23, and 7:30 p.m. April 27-29 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15-$57 ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel, except $15 general admission ($10 for students with ID) on Community Night (Tuesday, Jan. 31st).

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or https://tickets.playmakersrep.org/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.

SHOW: http://playmakersrep.org/show/my-fair-lady/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1250066705118736/.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxw9lJ-_n7c and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6OkbXeNKMg.

PRC NEWS RELEASE: http://playmakersrep.org/press/playmakers-repertory-company-presents-my-fair-lady/.

PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.

PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.

VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/paulgreen.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.

NOTE 2: There will be an All-Access Performance, with sign-language interpretation and audio description by Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11th. NOTE 3: There will be FREE post-show discussions, with members of the cast and creative team, following the show’s 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12th, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 16th, performances.

NOTE 4: There will be an Open Captioning Performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 15th (for more information, click here).

NOTE 5: The North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society will sponsor FREE post-show Mindplay psychoanalytic discussions on “Is Transformation ‘loverly’ or is it not?,” led by Natalie Peacock-Corral, MSW, LCSW, after the show’s 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29th, performance.

OTHER LINKS:

Pygmalion (1913 Vienna and 1914 Broadway play): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/pygmalion-7310 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).

George Bernard Shaw (British playwright, 1856-1950): http://www.shawsociety.org.uk/ (The Shaw Society, UK), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/bernard-shaw-69430 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw (Wikipedia).

My Fair Lady (1956 Broadway and 1958 West End musical): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/my-fair-lady-6369 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Fair_Lady (Wikipedia).

Script: https://www.scribd.com/doc/32699487/My-Fair-Lady-Script (Scribd.).

Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/my-fair-lady-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics, 1918-86): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-jay-lerner-3945 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C42 (Songwriters Hall of Fame), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Jay_Lerner (Wikipedia).

Frederick Loewe (music, 1901-88): http://www.frederickloewe.org/ (Frederick Loewe Foundation), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/frederick-loewe-5688 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C43?exhibitId=43 (Songwriters Hall of Fame), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Loewe (Wikipedia).

Tyne Rafaeli (New York City-based British-American director): https://www.tynerafaeli.com/ (official website), http://playmakersrep.org/artists/tyne-rafaeli/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/tyne-rafaeli-499887 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1544562/ (Internet Movie Database).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews