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This Fair Lady has Done Me In (Review – Encore Musical Theatre Company) August 6, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals.
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Photo courtesy Encore staff photographer, Michele Anliker

 

Lerner and Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY is probably the last musical you would expect to see at the Encore Musical Theatre Company – how do  you make all those costumes and sets work in a space that small? Well let me tell you, the production that opened last night at the Encore is not only scrumptious, but it is the finest musical they have done to date. Consider yourself lucky if you have a ticket, because its entire run is sold out.

Jessica Grové is a remarkable Eliza Doolittle and this is her musical top to bottom, acting, singing, and having the time of her life. You can’t keep your eyes off of her and her powerhouse performance, whether that is singing her way through a lovely “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” (with some great vocal support by the male quartet) or tearing through the more dramatic “Show Me”, leaving suitor Freddy literally floored.

Daniel Gerroll plays a dynamic Henry Higgins and his interactions with Eliza have a particular poignancy. The wordplay and meaning are clear in this intimate setting. Their interactions in Act II brought an angle to the show I had not considered before, and it works well here. Eliza’s transformation is particularly compelling, while Higgins goes for a slightly different ride than the usual take on the part.

There’s a wonderful performance by UM Musical Theater senior Riley McFarland as Freddy whose vocal chops soar in “On the Street Where You Live”; Dale Dobson turns in a fun Colonel Pickering; and always one of my favorites Keith Kalinowski plays a boisterous and humor-laden Alfred Doolittle singing and dancing his merry way through “With a Little Bit of Luck” and later the very fun “Get Me To The Church on Time”.

The entire ensemble is terrific — and they sing, dance, and support the leads throughout. The work here is simply stellar from top to bottom. Great to see old favorites on stage, as well as a handful of newcomers who I hope stay here forever.

Director and Designer Tony Walton has created a sumptuous feast of a musical, and despite its long (three hour) length, it never feels too slow. The sets fit in a jigsaw puzzle fashion in the space, and everything looks open and airy. Projections by Mr Walton are gorgeous, at times black and white, at times spotted with color, and representational of the original Broadway sets. It works magnificently here, and with no surprise given Mr Walton’s Tony/Drama Desk/Academy Award background. He’s helped by some terrific lighting by Robert Perry, gorgeous costumes by Caitlin Graham and Yuka Silvera (Eliza’s costumes). Choreography by Matthew Brennan is appropriate to the space and never repetitive. Anne Donevan’s props looks terrific as does Andy Galicki’s projection work. Tyler Driskill has done his usual excellent vocal work as musical director, and his 6-piece backstage band sounds terrific throughout.

As mentioned earlier — the entire run, every single ticket is sold out. If you hold a ticket, consider yourself the bearer of treasure, because you will not want to miss this MY FAIR LADY. There is a cancellation list at the box office — which is several pages long. I suggest you join it if you are looking for tickets – any tickets – to this production.

Very Highest Recommendation.

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