I hardly ever believe anyone who tells me I have to go see a particular show especially if it’s not on Broadway. Last week, however, 3 friends of mine and a famous writer of musicals told me separately that I must venture out of New York and go see the Bay Street Theater’s (the one in Sag Harbor) production of My Fair Lady.
Well I hopped in my old Mini, zipped through the heat and humidity and made my way to the theater (after having dinner at the venerable American hotel), grabbed a last second seat with my daughter and took in the local revival of a show I first saw in 1956 when I was in College in New Haven. As I’m sure you will remember, that show starred Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway and became one of the greatest musicals ever produced and Lerner and Lowe’s greatest achievement.
So here I was in the 2nd row 8 feet from a production that turned out to be absolutely brilliant and I mean really good and way better than I could have ever imagined. All the wonderful songs, which I mouthed along with the performers, were there and the cast was excellent. Now you should know this is a slimmed down version with really no scenery and just two pianos providing the music. But it worked…it really worked and I didn’t miss a full blown orchestra at all.
Eliza Doolittle (the impoverished flower girl from Covent Garden) was portrayed by Kelli Barrett who I actually saw in the ill-fated Dr. Zivago last year on Broadway and who was also in Wicked who is just perfect for a very difficult role which requires acting ability along with being a wonderful singer. Paul Alexander Nolan plays Henry Higgins the” speech therapist” and would you believe I just saw him in another great but ill-fated show called Bright Star. He looks a tad too young for the part but don’t let looks fool you, he does an outstanding job. Also along for the thrilling ride are Carole Shelley as Henry’s mother who has been in more shows that just about anyone you have ever heard of and Howard McGillin. If Howard’s name doesn’t ring a bell with you, he played the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera for longer than anyone else since it opened. He plays Henry’s chum Colonel Pickering without a mask. Others in the cast include Kaaren Murphy as Mrs. Pearce, John O’Creagh as that man getting to the church on time and Bobby Conte Thornton as the nebbish-like love interest Freddy Eynsford-Hill.
No need to tell you the story which of course was adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion since it’s really the words and music you will return to hear. Just to wet your memory there’s On The Street Where You Live, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, The Rain in Spain, Get Me To The Church On Time and of course the best one of all…I Could Have Danced All Night. So if you’re in the neighborhood of Sag Harbor and you can find a ticket (the run has been extended to September 4th) online to this delightful production you simply must go whether or not you have ever seen the original production or any of its many revivals one of which starred Richard Chamberlin.
I thank the folks who made sure I didn’t miss this Revival of My Fair Lady. Just marvelous.