One of my first memories of theatre as a child was seeing My Fair Lady at Starlight Theatre. My grandmother and I just happened to be in Balboa Park, and I begged her to buy tickets on a whim. Needless to say, I enjoyed the show so much that I was thrilled when Cygnet Theatre announced they would be performing this “loverly” musical adapted from the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
My Fair Lady captures the story of a young woman, Eliza Doolittle (Allison Spratt Pearce) who has a dream of working in a flower shop with a steady income if only she were more ladylike. She meets Professor Higgins (Sean Murray), a phoneticist, who dislikes her poor use of the English language. Wanting to improve her English for better opportunities, Eliza asks Higgins for speech lessons. After much persuasion, especially from his pal Colonel Pickering (Tom Stephenson), Higgins agrees. In six months, Eliza is transformed into a proper young lady with poise and eloquent speech.
As a child, I admired Eliza’s strength and determination in fulfilling her dream. Revisiting this musical thirty years later, my initial memory of Eliza has remained, but I have discovered something new. Eliza gains a mind of her own and certainly speaks it gracefully, specifically after Higgins and Pickering brag about how “they did it” without recognizing Eliza’s efforts. Although Eliza has become a “fair lady” she keeps her independence and spunky spirit even after realizing that Higgins will always view her as a flower girl and nothing more. She also comes to the conclusion that she no longer needs him. Higgins is surprised to learn that Eliza feels this way and that deep down he has grown fond of her. In the end, they find a way to maintain their relationship.
Allison Spratt Pearce as Eliza Doolittle did an amazing job with a cockney accent. Funny Ron Choularton, who played Eliza’a drunk dad, did a little bit of show stealing.
Thanks to the Cygnet Theatre for bringing this charming musical to the stage so that I could relive one my wonderful childhood memories.