Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
August 29, 2014
Two old warhorses have been trotted out for another run. They don’t write musicals like this any more — not as tuneful, and not as long!
“My Fair Lady,” one of the most brilliant musicals ever, clocks in at three hours at Moonlight Stage Productions. Its genius comes from the book, largely lifted from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” the perfect inspiration for Lerner and Loewe’s terrific score.
Steve Glaudini deftly directs a huge cast of 30, backed by an outstanding 25-piece orchestra, under the masterful baton of Elan McMahan. The singing is superb and the dancing is divine. But there are a few flaws in this attractive and elaborate production.
Eliza is the flower-seller who’s to be passed off as a duchess on a bet between two phoneticians. As played by Hilary Maiberger , Eliza has surprisingly little Cockney accent at the outset, so her dialectal transformation is minimal – which is the whole point of the play. As her suitor, Freddy, Nick Adorno reveals little personality in his should-be-show-stopping song, “On the Street Where You Live.”
On the plus side, Hank Stratton is marvelous as supercilious Professor Higgins, and Jamie Torcellini is delightful as the comic relief, Alfred P. Doolittle (“With a Little Bit of Luck”; “Get Me to the Church on Time”). Jim Chovick and Kathy Brombacher provide excellent support as Col. Pickering and Mrs. Higgins.
Meanwhile, at the Welk Theatre, “Oklahoma” is vying for statehood again, in the heartfelt but corn-fed 1963 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Here, too, the singing is strong, but the sets, wigs and four-piece musical accompaniment are weak. Despite a stellar score, and the best efforts of director/choreographer Dan Mojica, it’s hard for this show not to feel musty.
The energy is high in the trimmed-down cast of 16, and the central players are vocally and dramatically potent; there’s fine chemistry between Allen Everman and Kailey O’Donnell as cowboy Curly and farmgirl Laurey . The love triangle with the menacing hired hand Jud Fry works effectively. Andrew Koslow is agile and amiable as witless Will Parker, and Arielle Meads is a stunner in the Dream Ballet.
History and longevity make these two North County shows worth seeing, warts and all.
“My Fair Lady” runs through August 30, at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista.
“Oklahoma” continues through November 16 at the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido.
©2014 PAT LAUNER