My Fair Lady Soars at Orpheum Through December 3Nov 30, 2023 11:40AM ● By Claudia Moomey
Image courtesy of Omaha Performing Arts.
Within the gorgeous architecture of the Orpheum Theater, My Fair Lady seems right at home. The cast is led by Anette Barrios-Torres (Eliza Doolittle), whose stellar voice soars alongside Jonathan Grunert’s (Professor Henry Higgins) charismatic timbre. Both are complemented by a marvelous supporting ensemble, from which individual talent is easily isolated while still blending seamlessly. The musicality of the original score, performed by an incredibly gifted orchestra, is complemented by simple, yet beautiful choreography that reflects traditions of English nobility. Ms. Barrios-Torres flawlessly charms the audience with her beautiful soprano vocals and her character’s lovable transformation from cockney girl selling flowers on the street to noblewoman with a queenly grace. Eliza’s journey is full of “Heartbreak, Happiness, and Humor” (don’t drop those H’s!) that the audience experiences with her, thanks to Barrios-Torres’ skills on stage.
Our leading lady has many fine gentlemen accompanying her; John Adkison (Colonel Pickering) perfectly completes the Higgins House trio, while talented vocalist Nathan Haltiwanger (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) belts out the famous tenor ballad, “On the Street Where You Live,” leaving audience members captivated and dreaming of their first love.
Michael Hegarty (Alfred P. Doolittle) provides comedic relief as Eliza’s father, who gripes about marriage and describes his own wedding as a funeral in “Get Me to the Church on Time,” his last hurrah as a bachelor. Though this scene was performed well, the colorful oddities and sleazy costumes, including drag brides, were unexpected and felt misplaced. The song seemed as though it were from a vaudeville show; the unconventional scene unfolded quite suddenly and never reprised. The confusion concluded with the song but left a sourly strange impression that took away from the classic themes of the rest of the show.
The script stays true to the original, although the ending is slightly different, leaving more up to individual interpretation. The director allows the audience’s thoughts to trail back to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the play upon which the script was originally based, and the Greek myth for which it is titled. Does he love Eliza simply because she is his greatest “creation”? Did Eliza come back to Higgins out of love? Is her return to Higgins merely in his imagination?
The Orpheum’s presentation of My Fair Lady boasts a uniformly splendid cast that will make audiences laugh and fall in love with its characters. Overall, it is a charming, light-hearted musical treat that will please both first-time viewers and those nostalgic for its timeless tunes.
For information on showtimes and tickets, visit ticketomaha.com.