The Lincoln Center Theater production of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” opened at The Dolby Theatre this week to a Los Angeles audience that was starving for live theatre after 18 months of dark houses. The excitement was palpable and we were rewarded with an enchanting revival of a beloved classic. Never has the story of a bedraggled, Covent Garden flower seller who becomes the subject of a bet between a phonetics professor and his friend that he can pass her off as a duchess at a ball in six months, felt so fresh!
Yes, we know ALL the songs – I mean, literally, you forget just how many musical theatre classics are in this one show- but flower girl Eliza is far more empowered and combative than I remember, thanks to some subtle additions and changes in tone by director Bartlett Sher. This version is a lot closer to what author George Bernard Shaw had in mind with “Pygmalion”, the play on which “My Fair Lady” is based.
Right off the bat, when Eliza shows up at Professor Higgins home after he offers to transform her with elocution lessons, you see that it’s her own ambition for “a better life”, she says, that drives her; she is a woman seizing her opportunities. Throughout the process she remains leary of Higgins’ intentions and what it will all mean for her. But that doesn’t stop her from expressing sheer joy when she makes a breakthrough. Probably one of the most rapturous songs of all time, “I Could Have Dance All Night” is absolutely show stopping, sung by the feisty and gorgeous soprano of Shereen Ahmed. She was the understudy on Broadway and is an absolutely luminous Eliza leading an outstanding and diverse cast on this national tour. The whole production is sumptuous and thrilling to behold. Laird Mackintosh is a surprisingly dashing and agile Higgins, which is helpful given some of the truly wretched insults he casually tosses off at Eliza. His charm and vulnerability come through in an exquisite rendition of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face.” Macintosh and Ahmed are sublime together, whether it’s an impassioned row or an awkward glance, these two imbue the relationship with intelligence, fire and longing.
Kevin Pariseau is a lovely counterbalance to Higgins’ bluster, as the kind and jovial Colonel Pickering. The lovesick Freddy is played by an earnest and starry-eyed Sam Simahk who delivers the humor in the song “On The Street Where You Live”. Leslie Alexander is a wise and wry Mrs. Higgins and Adam Grupper is delightful as Eliza’s opportunistic father. “Get Me To The Church On Time” is a highlight with high-spirited and hilarious choreography.
It’s a compelling journey to watch wrapped in lush orchestrations that leave you breathless and teary-eyed at not only the poignant ending as Higgins realizes too late that it was Eliza who saved him and not the other way around, but at the sheer beauty of the show itself.
The Dolby Theatre is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd | Los Angeles, CA 90028. Tickets start at $30 BroadwayInHollywood.com or Ticketmaster.com Phone: 1-800-982-2787 In Person: Dolby Theatre Box Office or Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office Visit website for current box office hours.
Please find the latest Covid-19 policy updates at BroadwayInHollywood.com/SafeAndClean.