Review: "My Fair Lady" | Rock Candy

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: "My Fair Lady"

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 11:33 AM

My Fair Lady runs through Aug. 13 at The Weekend Theater.
  • Byron Taylor
  • "My Fair Lady" runs through Aug. 13 at The Weekend Theater.

‘My Fair Lady’
July 22, Weekend Theater

“My Fair Lady” is an old-fashioned Broadway musical that, by all rights, must be a devilish work to stage. It has accents! It has costumes! It has complicated set changes (from a horse track to a fancy ball to a book-filled flat)!

The fact that The Weekend Theater, the seemingly indefatigable troupe of volunteers, is putting “My Fair Lady” on stage — and in July no less — is a testament to how deeply the group loves theater. There are probably few theaters in country — professional or otherwise — who do what this company does, both in the diversity of works selected and number of shows done in a year. It is easy to take The Weekend Theater for granted.

What The Weekend Theater’s “My Fair Lady” lacks in professional polish, it makes up for in energy. The production, directed by Allison Pace, is blessed with a striking performance of Eliza Doolittle by Memory Apata, a junior at UALR. But it would seem that the true star here can be found off stage, in the person of musical director Lori Isner, who seems to pull out wonderful vocal performances from practically the entire cast. This being The Weekend Theater, the orchestra consists of a piano and a few other instruments, but you won’t leave this production feeling you’ve been cheated out of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s melodically rich score.

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” “My Fair Lady” is romantic comedy spiked with Shaw’s high-octane intelligence. “My Fair Lady” is able to squeeze in complicated talk of morals and phonetics, but mostly this is about strident old bachelor Henry Higgins (Ralph Hyman) reforming the “gutter-snipe” Doolittle before falling for her. All of that is really just a pleasant excuse to hear “On the Street Where You Live” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and the rest.

Apata makes for a striking Eliza. She has a clear voice that fills the room and a calm presence that makes you want to watch her. Perhaps she could come across a little more feral and rough in her opening scenes, but she remains in control throughout. As Higgins, Hyman has the timing and the bearing of the imperious professor. But Hyman, who sometimes can’t break out of repeated vocal patterns, has a hard time showing the surprise needed when he realizes that he doesn’t just want Doolittle around as a student. John C. Thompson as old schemer Alfred P. Doolittle bounces and brags with spirit and verve to spare.

The entire cast of 17 is adroitly maneuvered about The Weekend Theater’s postage stamp-sized stage. The set changes are done in fairly efficient manner and the costumes are pretty to look at on what must have been a nonexistent budget. But “My Fair Lady” would tax the resources of the richest theater. One wishes that The Weekend Theater wouldn’t even try to play that game — perhaps staging a whole big musical such as this with no costumes but a few hats and no set but a few chairs.

However, you certainly can’t say The Weekend Theater is skimping on its approach. They do their best to scale Lerner and Loewe’s big mountain of a musical and any audience that understands the rigors of theater —and should — appreciate that.

Tags: , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Werner Trieschmann

  • 'Disfarmer': behind the camera

    The strange case of Arkansas photographer Disfarmer, subject of a new play opening this weekend.
    • Sep 25, 2014
  • Live Review: Eric Church and Dwight Yoakam at Verizon

    Apparently Dwight Yoakam’s acting career is sufficiently slack enough that Friday night saw him opening for bro-country kingpin Eric Church at Verizon Arena. Hollywood is taking Yoakam in small enough doses (he has a recurring part on CBS’s “Under the Dome”) that he can lend his considerable talents to country music, which currently can use any kind of flavor it can get.
    • Sep 15, 2014
  • Musical 'Shrek' succeeds, mostly

    If light family entertainment is your speed.
    • Nov 2, 2011
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017
  • New music from Isaac Alexander

    New music from Isaac Alexander.
    • Jul 14, 2017
  • No Small Talk Ep. 8: Katy Henriksen, Springs Arts preview

    A packed episode this week of "No Small Talk": a chat with Katy Henriksen, from Of Note on KUAF; Stephanie Smittle breaks down the Spring Arts issue; and we finish up with just a tiny bit of Oscar chatter.
    • Mar 9, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation