The North American tour of critically-acclaimed production of “My Fair Lady” opened at DPAC this past Tuesday to a full house and continues with shows through this Mother’s Day weekend. This production of the classic truly rises to the occasion by both sticking close to the original source material, George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play about England’s rigid social class snobbery, while also finding a balance with more contemporary social norms and avoids the outdated theme in which female characters return to misogynistic men who treat them poorly.
In this production the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle isn’t a cartoonish and helpless character played for laughs as she’s subjected to relentlessly demeaning treatment and insults by phonetician Henry Higgins. While Sheree Ahmed typically plays Eliza on this tour, her understudy, Nicole Ferguson, played part on Tuesday night and did a wonderful job. Ferguson compellingly captures Eliza’s struggle to improve herself and the joy she finds in it as she grows and realizes she is deserving of respect. She has grown and is no longer the student.
Laird Mackintosh is excellent as the outlandish and some-what man-child like Professor Higgins that you cannot help but hate him. He delivers his withering comments to Eliza in a way that feels more oblivious than intentionally hateful but still, his self-important and misogynistic ways persist throughout and he never learns to change his ways, even if means he will lose the one he desires. His character repeatedly turns to the audience to deliver lines about language and social class, further cementing the relationship between tutor and student.
The sets and costumes in this production are gorgeous, with lavish, forced perspective scenery by Michael Yeargan and stunning period costumes by Catherine Zuber. Everything about the stage work, setting, and lighting is top notch as it transports you into the world of early 20th century England.
This production of My Fair Lady was a delight and a must see by anyone a fan of this classic! One of the biggest question in modern productions of “My Fair Lady” is whether the director will reunite Higgins and Eliza in the end. This production makes a choice that I won’t spoil here, but it’s one that may have audience members drawing their own conclusions at the end of the show.
“My Fair Lady” shows at DPAC through this Sumday, May 8th. To purchase tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/my-fair-lady