My Fair Lady Kicks Off the Outdoor Theater’s Season

PCPA’s Summer Opener Brings the Laughs and Good Spirits

<b>LOVERLY:</b> Karin Hendricks and Andrew Philpot joust wits and wills as Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in <i>My Fair Lady</i>.
Courtesy Photo

PCPA’s My Fair Lady is a faithful rendition of the classic musical. With a solid set of leads and a very animated ensemble, it’s a strong and unswerving retelling of one of Broadway’s biggest and most enduring plays.

Under a dreamy blue-green scene of Belle Époque wrought iron, actors Andrew Philpot and Karin Hendricks joust wits and will as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, respectively, the two carrying the well-worn parts more than capably. Philpot’s Higgins convincingly thinks at a higher speed than the surrounding characters, his energy brisker, his air of debonair more palpable, and his insults most stinging — Philpot relishes laying into the laymen. Hendricks, as Doolittle, has a soaring voice, her vibrato heavy but welcome, with comic chops to boot — see her uproarious mannered bluntness during the Ascot Gavotte scene. Their foils, Peter S. Hadres as Colonel Pickering and Kitty Balay as Mrs. Higgins, are loyal and fitting adherents to their parts, true to form.

Deserving special mention, though, would be Erik Stein as crowd favorite Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s boozing and charmingly amoral father. He swigs and swaggers with a balance of grace and grime as artful as Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, meticulous as a maestro in his brash bumbling and woozy dance. Watching him dance in “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time” are show highlights.

Yet he wouldn’t be so without the support of the ensemble, who also deserve special mention, being something of a focus for director and choreographer Michael Jenkinson. To the credit of his vision and intention, the Cockney lower and stiff-lipped upper classes alike interacted and danced as fully-fledged characters that merely lacked lines (as opposed to mere dancers). In the attention to their expression and the realism of their physicality, Jenkinson and the actors have endowed their ensemble with noticeable personality.

With more than 20 songs, the play is perhaps unavoidably on the long side, and attendees best plan to make it a cozy night — bring or rent blankets. If the cast and crew can manage, somehow speeding it up at a fraction of a second per scene may ease the feeling of length. But otherwise, this accomplished retelling of a longstanding favorite still brings the laughs and good spirits, and is a great way to kick off the outdoor theater’s summer season. It is, in a word, loverly.


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