Theater review: My Fair Lady takes musical pleasure to the heart

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Eliza Doolittle on the street
Photo courtesy Seattle Musical Theatre

By Jim Anderson

My Fair Lady at Seattle Musical Theatre is worth seeing. Why? There is something refreshingly new. Musicals are all about good music and this will have you humming classic songs like they were brand new. The tone is set with a skillfully done, happy and light hearted 4-part harmony in the early street scene. Throughout, actors take musical pleasure to where it belongs. The heart.

From stage elements whose colors pop to life with well-designed lighting, to an upgraded audio system, from sharp period costumes to an orchestra very alive and well-adapted to each scene, this presentation at Seattle Musical Theatre is both easy on the senses and the music deftly helps each scene flow from one to the next.

Matt Eldridge's Colonel Pickering
Photo courtesy Seattle Musical Theatre 

As in most of life, the best parts of Lerner and Loewe’s ‘My Fair Lady’ are the women. Each leading man’s role conveys parts of what each man must overcome to be a gentleman. Each woman’s part conveys various ways for the human soul to thrive and even soar.

Brittney Stout plays Eliza Doolittle and is perfectly transparent – every moment of her character’s despair or hope is discreetly apparent, and her character’s triumphs are things of beauty matched and even highlighted by her fine vocal range which she uses to tastefully punctuate the story line.

My Fair Lady’s treatment of Eliza Doolittle is like a Cliff Note on the abandonment, violence, despair, and denigration behind many lost girls’ fate. Stout’s craft gives these elements the brief justice afforded in this presentation – and perhaps a bit of hope to the lost part in each of us.

Her character is framed between two women. Mrs. Pearce, Professor Higgins’ Chief of Staff played by Christie Lynn Devoe, and the professor’s mother, Mrs. Higgins, played by Christine Salo. Portraying good humor and tremendous stage presence, each of these actors move in and out of the storyline playing a sort of tag team giving the audience pleasure – and relief from the Professor’s antics.

Brittney Stout as Eliza Doolittle and Tom Stewart as Prof Henry Higgins
Photo courtesy Seattle Musical Theatre

Tom Stewart plays Professor Henry Higgins and reliably represents what every would-be gentleman should fear creating. Stewart has a great energy that projects not only the vanity of a lost soul (despite being cast as the hero) but also conveys his character’s struggle to find goodness.

Jeff Caldwell plays Eliza's father
Photo courtesy Seattle Musical Theatre
Jeff Caldwell plays Eliza’s estranged father and blithely portrays the ease with which estrangement may be created.

Matt Eldridge’s Colonel Pickering is predictably assigned to put one gentleman on stage in most scenes and Matt pulls it off with an unpretentious and light-hearted sense of class and old-fashioned stage presence.

And speaking of gentlemen, Jeremy Adams playing a would-be suitor, adds a fresh presence in brief appearances and a heart-warming presentation of ‘On the Street Where You Live’.

This 40th season of Seattle Musical Theatre brings a new artistic director, Tyrone Brown, and is bringing to Seattle a sweet lineup of four more shows ranging from ‘Annie’ to ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’.

Subscriptions for the entire season or single show tickets are available at My Fair Lady runs through October 1.

The theater is located at 7120 62nd Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115 in Magnuson Park.

updated with correct end of run 9-26-17


Unknown September 15, 2017 at 11:22 PM  

i just saw this production and found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Anonymous,  September 26, 2017 at 3:10 PM  

Fantastic performance, we loved it. just a correction to the above article though... it runs through Oct 1st, not Nov 1st. So hurry!

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