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Tuesday February 25, 2014 MYT 2:25:00 PM
Tuesday February 25, 2014 MYT 2:46:09 PM
by bervin cheong
The Tony Award winning musical 'My Fair Lady' features beautiful music and exquisite costumes that enthralls.
My Fair Lady successfully transports audiences to Edwardian London with happy songs and a delightful story.
WHEN the musical first opened in 1956, it was hailed as a hit. My Fair Lady ran for seven years on Broadway, with more than 2,700 performances. It also won six Tony Awards for its stellar showing then.
Now, close to 60 years on, it still captivates. The current staging of My Fair Lady in Singapore certainly does not disappoint. It proves to be an unforgettable experience with beautiful music and exquisite portrayal of the characters.
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play Pygmalion, it tells of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from Professor Henry Higgins, a rather misogynistic phoneticist, so that she may pass as a well-born lady.
Within her long training (which is hilarious as can be), she is transformed into a true lady, but Higgins gets more than what he has bargained for. Seen developing is as such, a love affair between two of the most unlikely individuals.
Through days of Higgins pushing Doolittle to change her Cockney accent to one that befits the “grandeur of the English language”, he himself begins to change. Although torturously slow, he is forced revised his views of what he thinks of women – or as he initially puts it, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”
The version of the musical showing in Singapore features a cast of the US National Tour. Aurora Florence plays Doolittle and Chris Carsten portrays Higgins – both of whom shine with their natural, and ultimately comedic interactions with each other.
Supporting them are Michael Brian Dunn as Eliza’s rakishly charismatic father (Alfred), Richard Springle as Higgins’ addle-minded friend (Colonel Pickering) and Kathleen Huber as the formidable mother of Higgins, amongst others.
The book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe feature a stunning array of catchy tunes. Songs to look out for (and perhaps hum along to during the show) include the likes of The Rain In Spain, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly and Get Me To The Church On Time.
In terms of the script, elements of acerbic wit and overt irony pair well with the easy banter that exists in the interactions of the characters. The transition from scene to scene, as well as dialogue to song keeps everything fresh and exciting.
When it comes to the costumes and backdrop, they are as beautiful as they can be. It is these that complete the whole vision of old London and entreats the audience to fully immerse themselves in the classic tale.
Everything bright and cheery aside, My Fair Lady provides an insightful look into the perceivable British class system of its time. It also takes a dig at society’s weigh-ins with regards to language and how it can divisive to any culture in general.
The social commentary that unfolds from within the songs and dances thus lends a sense of gravity to an otherwise light-hearted tale of a girl just trying her best to move forward (and above) in her station.
> My Fair Lady is showing at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre, Singapore until March 2. Tickets are priced from S$95 (RM247). For bookings, log on to https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/lady0314.
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