A night of elegance at "My Fair Lady"

By: Heather Beyer

It was a night of reminisce and elegance. From the moment I entered EJ Thomas Hall, it felt as though I was stepping back in time. Everyone was dressed in fashionable attire. There was even a young lady wearing a vintage hat, cloak and dress that appeared to be very fitting for the occasion.

“My Fair Lady” takes place in England in 1912. It is the story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who sells flowers on the street and dreams of a better life. One cold evening, Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, stumbles upon Eliza. He makes a little wager with his friend Colonel Pickering that he could transform Eliza into a duchess in three months’ time. Eliza moves into the Higgins household and is put through a grueling course of phonetics lessons. She works tirelessly to master “proper” English.

One of the most memorable moments of the show is when Eliza is about to give up. It is about 3 a.m. and she can’t seem to grasp the proper pronunciations.

“I know your head aches; I know you’re tired; I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher’s window,” Higgins says to Eliza. “But think what you’re trying to accomplish. Think what you’re dealing with. The majesty and grandeur of the English language, it’s the greatest possession we have. The noblest thoughts that ever flowed through the hearts of men are contained in its extraordinary, imaginative and musical mixtures of sounds. And that’s what you’ve set yourself out to conquer, Eliza. And conquer it you will.”

Eliza finally does have her moment of triumph at the Embassy Ball. She is beautiful, elegant and well spoken. After the ball, Eliza falls into despair as she sees Higgins celebrating “his triumph” in passing Eliza off as a duchess. He shows very little consideration for her feelings. Eliza sneaks out of Higgins’ house to speak with his mother. Later, Higgins comes in search of Eliza, but she refuses to return with him. Back at home, Higgins realizes that he has become accustomed to Eliza when suddenly she appears. The two are reunited.

“I love Eliza for always being her own person and knowing what she wants and how to work for it while still being a loving person,” Akron alumna Kacie Heldt said.

This was a fantastic production. The acting, music, costumes and set were all phenomenal. All the actors used very fine-tuned accents and their diction was impeccable. They did a brilliant job of taking the audience away to another time and place. It was a beautiful experience that I didn’t want to end.

The music was very catchy and engaging, especially the musical numbers “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.” Two of the more comedic numbers of the evening where “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”

Arthur Wise gave a marvelous performance in his portrayal of Alfred Doolittle. He employed little nuances that really brought his character to life on stage. For instance, when he met Professor Higgins, he sat down in his chair and wiped his dirty hands all over it, creating a very clear image of his character.

Aurora Florence, who played Eliza, exceeded all my expectations. She gave a stunning performance portraying Eliza Doolittle. When she sang “I Could Have Dance All Night,” I got chills. She hit every note flawlessly and left the audience wanting to hear more of her beautiful voice. Another memorable character was Colonel Pickering, played by Richard Springle. His dialect was superb.

My favorite musical number of the evening was “On the Street Where You Lived.” This whimsical, romantic ballad carried the audience away. It is such a gorgeous song when sung well, and it certainly was in this performance. Daniel Cardenas, who played Freddy Eynsford-Hill, had a magnificent vocal range and powerful voice.

The costumes and set were completely breathtaking. The audience would gasp as each new scene was unveiled. One of the most memorable scenes was at the race track. The actors were costumed in black and white. The scene looked like a painting, a still frame from back in time. The set for the show was extravagant but was utilized very effectively throughout the show, even during the curtain call.

“I found ‘My Fair Lady’ lively and humorous,” Heldt said. “I have always enjoyed the music of ‘My Fair Lady’ and saw the film many years ago and have always wanted to see the stage production. The background murals were very beautiful and helped transport the audience to London.”