Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stage Door: My Fair Lady (2 reviews)

Stage Door Theatre opened its production of My Fair Lady at its Broward location on February 17, 2012.
This show is the standard by which all others are measured. With “Wouldn't It Be Loverly” “With a Little Bit of Luck” “The Rain in Spain” “I Could Have Danced All Night” “On the Street Where You Live” “Get Me to the Church on Time” and “I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face” it's no wonder everyone-not just Henry Higgins-falls in love with Eliza Doolittle.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that included Matthew William Chizever, Diana Rose, Regan Featherstone, Michael Douglass, and Bob Levitt.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...this edition of My Fair Lady is a disappointing muddle other than a few adequate performances under the direction of the usually reliable Michael Leeds.

The first two thirds of this evening is mostly a listless, lackluster effort. Surprisingly, the quality improves so significantly in the final third of the show that you wonder if they switched out the casts. But by that time, it’s too late. Even at its best moments, and it has some, there’s no magic, no charm.
Stage Door’s strongest assets, thankfully, are Matthew William Chizever as the misanthropic speech pathologist Henry Higgins and Diana Rose Becker as the flower girl from streets who he transforms into a “lie-dee” while she gets under his skin.
Chizever wisely makes no attempt to channel any of his predecessors including the indelible icon Rex Harrison. Instead, he delivers his own perfectly valid characterization...  He labors mightily to inject expressiveness in his songs, a task made three times more difficult by the digital music that barrels along as if it’s late to a party.
Becker, a willowy brunette with a lovely soprano that does justice to Loewe’s melodies, is just fair, no pun intended, when acting the intimidated Eliza in the first act. She really only comes into her own as an actress once she has been transformed into a swan and begins to push back.
A nod goes to Regan Featherstone as the lovesick Freddy Eynsford-Hill who delivers a respectable  “On the Street Where you Live.” And credit Miki Edelman for giving Mrs. Higgins the dry droll topspin missing from everyone else in the cast.
While we strongly favor live bands... we’ve mentioned here that if you’re going to do a major musical with a lush score like this one, the digitized score at least gives you a chance at reproducing the full orchestral sound that older audiences associate with warhorse titles... But the score here and in at least one other recent show has been provided by a company that rents them out. They are awful. They sound tinny and, worst of all, they race along at such an unnatural clip that singers can do little but sprint along.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
My Fair Lady... remains as delightful a piece of musical theater as the day the team debuted it in 1956. But that doesn’t mean My Fair Lady is foolproof or easy to pull off, truths that the Stage Door production illustrates.
Michael Leeds... has a 20-member company for My Fair Lady. But just two of the performers would shine in nearly any production of the musical, though fortunately for Leeds (and the audience), those two are Matthew William Chizever as... Henry Higgins... and Diana Rose Becker as... Eliza Doolittle...
Chizever and Becker have obvious onstage chemistry, properly combative for much of the show but also hinting at a growing bond that Higgins doesn’t quite grasp, to Eliza’s consternation. Shaw always loathed the idea of a happy ending for his version of the Pygmalion-Galatea story. But the full-of-possibility final image, with Chizever’s grinning Higgins and Becker’s pretty-in-pink Eliza, is one of the loveliest and most satisfying moments in a B-grade production that doesn’t have an abundance of them.
Less demanding My Fair Lady fans may be perfectly happy with what Leeds and company have achieved, particularly given the “loverly” performances by Chizever and Becker. But what should have been a season highlight just isn’t.
My Fair Lady plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through March 25, 2012.


  1. The reviewers might have taken a moment to praise the wonderful costumes and scenery for this show. My friend and I enjoyed it much more than they evidently did, and both of us are old enough to have seen the original Broadway production and the movie versions. We do agree that the taped music rushed things and that the first act seemed long. The cast, however, was much more than adequate. We've renewed our subscriptions to the Stage Door Theatre. It's the best thing we have here.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It's important to hear from theatre patrons; word of mouth has always been the best advertising for any show.

    Please remember to click the link to read the entire review; we can't quote the entire article due to copyright restrictions, so what you see here is only a summary to give you a quick impression of what a reviewer wrote.

    I'm glad that you're supporting theater in these difficult times. The Stage Door has done some excellent work, and they deserve your loyalty.

    And thank you for reading The Scene!