by Lorie Lewis Ham
The classic Lerner and Loewe musical My Fair Lady opened at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater on July 21, but I wasn’t able to make it to the show until last Thursday. This show was well worth the wait!
I have seen the movie version of My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, many times. However, this was only my second time seeing the stage version. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, it is set in London in the early 1900s and features a pompous phonetics professor named Henry Higgins (Chris Mangels), who is so sure of his abilities that he makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering (Jeff Dinmore) that he can transform Cockney working-class flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Breanne Gallagher) into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society. She is willing to take lessons from him to improve her job prospects. The pair clash terribly, but gradually form a bond. Higgins teaches her to be a lady and she teaches him a thing or two about people, and may even soften his hardened confirmed bachelor heart.
This show is not only a lot of fun, but it also makes you think about how on the inside we are all the same, and that you shouldn’t look down on someone simply because they are poor or have less education. It also shows that anyone can better their lives no matter how low their situation.
Chris and Breanne have perfect chemistry and I really enjoyed their banter as they clashed constantly over her lessons and life. Breanne did a good job of playing both the poor flower girl, and the transformed society lady. Teddy Maldonado plays Eliza’s father Alfred, and as always he was hilarious! Jeff Dinmore is a talented character actor and I always enjoy seeing him on stage–he too had great chemistry with Chris, and with Breanne. The entire cast does a splendid job.
The songs are fun, some are beautiful, and many are very familiar, such as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face.”
Chris Mangels is absolutely brilliant as Professor Higgins–from his rants, rudeness, and utter cluelessness about women, to the touching vulnerability of his performance of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face.” I personally feel that Chris is one of the top actors in our Valley–he’s one of those actors who could entertain you just reading a grocery list out loud, and he has a commanding presence on stage. Getting to see him in this delightful role was pure heaven.
This Good Company Players production of My Fair Lady is delightful and runs until September 11. This is a show you just don’t want to miss. It will make you laugh, think, and the ending is just plain loverly. Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is at 1226 N. Wishon Avenue in Fresno. Call (559) 266-9494 or go to gcplayers.com for tickets.
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