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Potomac Theatre Company My Fair Lady

By • Nov 20th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
My Fair Lady
Potomac Theatre Company
Blair Family Center for the Arts, Potomac, MD
Through November 25th
3:10 with one intermission
$20/$18 Students, Seniors
Reviewed November 17th, 2012

My Fair Lady (Music and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and Music by Frederick Loewe) is the story of a flower girl who takes speech lessons so she may sell flowers in a shop instead of on the street. Potomac Theatre Company gave a bit of an uneven performance with most of the problems coming from problematic lighting cues and some minor mic issues. The actors though gave a solid performance both with their acting and singing.

Eliza Doolittle, the flower seller was played by Mary Wakefield. She was spunky and had a nice vocal range. She and Henry Higgins (Ken Kemp) had a rough relationship. Kemp’s brusque manners and rude behavior clashed with Wakefield’s need for love and affection. In the final scene, the two did not quite hit the spark of love, but more a mutual respectability. This will come with time as neither Higgins nor Eliza tend to give in gracefully.

Col. Hugh Pickering, another linguist, is played by David Berkenbilt. While at times Berkenbilt fumbled his lines a bit, but his fondness for Eliza and honest desire to she see her taken care of we quite sincere, and showed a nice contrast to Kemp’s treatment of Eliza. For example, Berkenbilt showed genuine emotion as he nervously awaited he arrival of Eliza before the Embassy Ball. Eliza’s father Alfred P. Doolittle, the confirmed bachelor until respectability got hold of him, was played by Bob Ashby (who is also a reviewer for ShowBizRadio). Ashby seemed at ease with the dance choreography and also captured the affection of the audience playing a boorish, constantly inebriated, yet loving father to Eliza whose way he stayed out of until he needed money. Matriarchal Mrs. Higgins, played by Nan Muntzing, had her hands full with Henry as well as Eliza at first, but Eliza and Mrs. Higgins soon came to terms and a friendship developed.

The Ascot scene was well done, except that the onlookers all seemed to be looking at different places as the horses raced by. Perhaps a laser pointer or flashlight could be used to help the actors focus on the same spot while watching the race. During “With a Little Bit of Luck” the ladies were sitting in the background working on their flower arrangements, which unfortunately was a bit distracting as the men sang. Very creative touches were added to “Just You Wait.” As Eliza sang of what she wanted to do to Higgins, the lyrics were acted out by the ensemble in a very funny style.

Scenic Designer Mary Cheng’s choice of wall coloring for Higgins’ home at first seemed a bit drab, with battleship grey walls. The costumes, from Charelle’s Stage & Screen, continued the color decisions, with the upper crust of England generally in shades of grey, black and white, and the lower-class had many colors in their costumes, other than bright white shirts on the men. Eliza’s dress for the Embassy ball was a lovely green and gold. The Ascot scene was all black and white with the color coming from the hats worn by the women. The usage of the colors was subtle, but effective. A few added touches to the set would have been nice, perhaps a chair rail along the walls of Higgins’ study, and trim around the doorway.

The lighting design was a bit distracting. For example, the mood was killed 90 minutes into the first act when the house lights came up to allow Freddy (Philip McLeod) to make an entrance through the house. Unfortunately many people thought the lights were for the intermission, so they got up to head for the lobby. Yet there were still two more songs to go! Also in the second act, the house lights were incorrectly programmed into the stage lighting cues, resulting in house lights rising and falling in the middle of several scenes. The scene changes were completed fairly quickly and the orchestra under the direction of Ron Isaacson conducted well with the difficult score. There were some minor mic issues with some crackling and the mics not getting turned on or off quickly enough.

Potomac Theatre Company’s My Fair Lady had a few technical issues in this performance, but there was still magic in the actor’s performance. Hopefully the technical issues have been addressed for their final three shows on Thanksgiving weekend.

Director’s Notes

It’s always interesting to me when a show “enrolls” me. My Fair Lady was never quite my cup of tea. Henry Higgins just seemed such an irascible, misogynistic old fellow; the story stuffy and too removed from my “over the pond” sensibilities. Yet, I’v grown accustomed to this show.

I recall as a child, somehow I ended up with records (remember those?) of Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady. I still have no idea how that happened, but I did. As Julie Andrews’ words filled my head, I happened one day to play My Fair Lady on the stereo. Yuck. Not good. I left the room.

Then, in an adjoining room, I heard a lovely lilting voice and realized that was Mary Poppins singing so “Loverly” to me. Then I heard this tune about these gruff old codgers singing about their luck. Didn’t get what the song was about, but it was fun. Over time, I finally listened to the whole thing and learned to love the music. I finally saw it and read it again, and fell in love with the show.

This is truly an amazing musical filled with wit, joy, and a wry sense of humor that anyone could love. So, sit back and let it enroll you as well.

Kevin Sockwell
Director, My Fair Lady

Cast

  • Eliza Doolittle: Mary Wakefield
  • Freddy Eynsford-Hill: Philip McLeod
  • Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: Laura Holmes
  • Col. Hugh-Pickering: David Berkenbilt
  • Bystander: Rand Huntzinger
  • Professor Henry Higgins: Ken Kemp
  • Selsey Woman: Peggy Dennis
  • Hoxton Man: Frank DeSando
  • Bystander #3: Stuart Fischer
  • Cockney: Frank DeSando, John Dickson
  • The Quartet: Frank DeSando, John Dickson, Joshua Herstein, Rand Huntzinger
  • Bartender: Stuart Fischer
  • Alfred P. Doolittle: Bob Ashby
  • Jamie: Joshua Herstein
  • Harry: Frank Kesterman
  • Angry Woman: Stevie Miller
  • Angry Man: Frank DeSando
  • Mrs. Pearce: Leslie Luxemburg
  • Mrs. Hopkins: Laura Hubbard
  • First Maid: Stevie Miller
  • Second Maid: Amanda Jones
  • Mrs. Higgins: Nan Muntzing
  • Footman: Frank DeSando
  • Sir Reginald Tarrington: Rand Huntzinger
  • Lady Tarrington: Amanda Jones
  • Professor Zolton Karpathy: Stuart Fischer
  • Queen of Transylvania: Marilyn Shockey
  • Ensemble: Peggy Dennis, Frank DeSando, John Dickson, Stuart Fischer, Joshua Herstein, Laura Holmes, Laura Hubbard, Rand Huntzinger, Amanda Jones, Frank Kesterman, Stevie Miller, Marilyn Shockey, Anne Sohn, Maria Wilson

Production Team

  • Producer: Tammi T. Gardner
  • Director: Kevin Sockwell
  • Music Director: Ron Isaacson
  • Stage Manager: Tamara A.Hunter
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Will Pommerening
  • Scenic Design: Mary Seng
  • Technical Director: Steve Deming
  • Lighting Design: Priscilla Precious Ann Porer
  • Sound Design: Elliot Lanes
  • Sound Consultant: David Steigerwald
  • Costume Designer: Charelle’s Stage & Screen
  • Makeup Designer: Renee Silverstone
  • Props & Set Dressing: Kevin Sockwell, Tammi T. Gardner, Mary Seng
  • Light Operator: Shoshana Mintz-Urquhart
  • Sound Operator: Dave Ramsey
  • Set Construction Supervisor: Tory Coleman
  • Set Construction: Saela Adams, Alan Beck, Bob Dennis, Elie & Ted Cain, Raymond Durante, Tammi T. Gardner, Tony Pisarra, Mary Seng, Dawson Smith, Patrick Quibb
  • Tech Crew: The Stage Craft and Lighting Classes of The University of thd District of Columbia
  • Scenic Painting: Anne Martinez, Elie Cain
  • Photographer: Harvey Levine
  • Publicity: Colleen Healy, Nan Muntzing
  • House Manager: Elie Cain
  • Playbill: Marilyn Shockey

Orchestra

  • Ron Isaacson: Conductor
  • Doug Greer, Audrey Chang, Steve Natrella: Violi
  • Beth Radovsky, Elizabeth Greene: Cello
  • Ricardo Herrara: String Bass
  • Lisa Fahlstrom: Flute
  • James Bazen: Oboe
  • Nancy Switkes, Teresa Meeks: Bassoon
  • Jim Bensinger, Wendy Siegelman: Clarinet
  • Len Morse, John Messinger: Trumpet
  • Tobi Cisin, Allison Archer: French Horn
  • Tim Malac, Steven Isaacson: Trombone
  • Sandy Lederman: Piano
  • Rehearsal/Audition Pianists: Sandy Lederman, Arielle Bayer, Jacob Kidde

Disclaimer: Potomac Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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