Chicago's Court Theatre will present an "irreverent and incredibly intimate version" of the Tony Award-winning musical, My Fair Lady, April 18-May 26.
The University of Chicago's professional theatre will offer a two-piano version of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's classic 1956 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Director Gary Griffin will direct the Court's re-imagined staging at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, located in Chicago's downtown River West neighborhood. Chicago favorites Kate Fry and Kevin Gudahl will star as Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, roles created onstage by Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison.
The cast also includes Court resident artists John Reeger as Colonel Pickering and Bradley Mott as Alfred P. Doolittle with Court resident apprentice Ned Noyes as Freddy as well as Marilynn Bogetich, Neil Friedman, Ora Jones, Kymberly Mellen and Jason Sharp. Tom Murray will serve as music director, and the rest of the creative team includes John Culbert (sets), Christine Binder (lights), Nan Cibula-Jenkins (costumes) and Bruce Holland (sound).
In a recent statement director Griffin comments about his intimate approach to the famed musical: "It's happening in the U.K. a lot more . . . Taking the original material, treating it with respect, but approaching it from the mindset of creating the first production. With the spirit of starting over, beginning from the ground up, freeing ourselves of the 1950s musical theatre sensibility, and placing a much greater emphasis on creating an intimate, character-driven story, in which dreams, monologues and private moments are heightened." Griffin also explains that "while the original Broadway musical version of My Fair Lady took Pygmalion and expanded it, made it bigger, Court's staging will use the same music to 'zoom in' on the characters, to make the audience want to lean in close, to listen more, to intensify the heightened moments. In other words, we plan to take the whipped cream off My Fair Lady to taste the great flavors inside. I hope our great discovery," he adds, "is how the text, characters and relationships are the key ingredients."
Fry—who will portray Eliza—concurs: "This is such a fantastic piece of theatre," she says. "You couldn't ask for a better book and score. And I think that doing the show on a smaller, more intimate level will enable us to explore what is already a complex and thrilling piece in a deeper and more specific way, with less distractions." My Fair Lady begins previews at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts (777 N. Green Street) on April 18. For tickets and more information, call the CCPA Box office at (312) 327-2000.
My Fair Ladyopened at Broadway's Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 15, 1956, and ran for over 2,000 performances. Its award-winning score includes such gems as "I Could Have Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live," "The Rain in Spain," "Show Me" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" The subsequent 1964 film starred Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Holloway and Rex Harrison, who reprised his stage role to Academy Award-winning effect. The last Broadway revival (1993) starred Richard Chamberlain as Higgins and Melissa Errico as his protégée.
—By Andrew Gans