(Posted April 12, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
For many reasons, “My Fair Lady”–a musical about a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from a professor in order to pass as a lady–is an ideal choice for a stage production this particular spring.
“We’ve always wanted to do ‘My Fair Lady,’ but the problem has been that it’s kind of a small cast and the scenes are mostly made up of small groups, but that presents a perfect scenario for a year like this,” said Nick Mayes, director of Jonathan Alder’s upcoming production of the George Bernard Shaw classic.
Limiting group sizes is an ongoing safety measure during the pandemic, so a smaller cast fits with the times. A light storyline with a timely message is welcome, too, in a year when reality has been heavy.
“The show has a good message about the nature of change and how we grow as people,” Mayes said. “We also wanted to do something light, and I think we have the perfect kids to do it, too.”
Honour Lackey, a senior, has jumped wholeheartedly into her role as Eliza Doolittle, the musical’s title character.
“I’m not sure I have ever met a student who has been as prepared for this role as Honour has. She is going to kill the role of Eliza Doolittle, in a good way,” Mayes said.
He is equally as impressed with Evan Stage, a sophomore, who is tackling what Mayes argues is one of the toughest roles in theater, that of Henry Higgins. The professor character has lots and lots of lines.
“This is Evan’s first big role, and he has tackled it with grace. He is an amazing singer and performer,” Mayes said.
The director also had glowing praise for the other two main leads in the musical. Riley Gluntz, a senior, is putting his own twist on the character of Colonel Pickering, another linguist who makes a bet with Higgins about his ability to transform Eliza into a lady.
“Riley is one of the most nuanced actors I’ve worked with. He is very good at adding to the scene,” Mayes said. “The colonel reminds everyone about morals and is not a particularly funny character, but somehow Riley has made him into an endearing, funny character… that takes talent.”
Senior Elijah Thorpe, one of the most experienced actors to hit the Alder stage this spring, plays Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle.
“Eli has played the most diverse types of roles (over the years). He was a little boy in ‘Seussical,’ an immigrant from Asia (‘Anything Goes’), a southern high schooler (‘Footloose’), and now an old British guy,” Mayes said. “The second he walks on the stage, he’s a scene stealer.”
The cast as a whole is a mix of mostly freshmen and seniors, making for an excited and exciting combination of newcomers and veterans.
“This cast really has come into their own. They keep pushing themselves and are very resilient to change,” Mayes said.
The theater department has gone all out this year, renting almost all the costumes and springing for some spectacular set furnishings, including a real spiral staircase for the two-story set that serves as Higgins’s study.
“Anyone who comes to see the show, there’s no doubt they will enjoy it,” Mayes said.
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for Jonathan Alder students and adults 65 years old and up. Those interested in attending have several dates from which to choose. Shows are set for April 22-25, April 30, and May 2. Showtime is 2 p.m. on April 25 and May 2. Showtime is 7 p.m. for all other dates.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.jamb-arts.org/my-fair-lady.html. A reduced capacity in the auditeria will allow for six feet of social distancing between seats.