Front Row Reviewers

Jun 5, 2024 | Reviews

Cedar Valley Community Theater takes a leap across the pond to London in classic “My Fair Lady”

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

Review by Jessica Loftus and Leona Lombardi, Front Row Reviewers

Based on George Bernard Shaw‘s Pygmalion, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe‘s adaptation of My Fair Lady as it follows Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from linguist Henry Higgins to improve her social standing. As an experiment, Higgins transforms Eliza to pass as royalty at the Embassy Ball. Despite her successful transformation, Eliza struggles with her sense of identity and her relationship with Higgins.

My Fair Lady, even though a classic production, is not seen very often anymore around the community, with so many new-age plays and musicals hitting the stage. The original Broadway production premiered on March 15, 1956 and ran for seven years before closing. There were multiple Broadway and London revivals of the production, with the latest as the 2022 London revival running for 16 weeks.

Michael Eaton clearly had his work cut out for him in directing such a complex and well-known piece. However, the cohesiveness of the cast and the show’s timeless feeling proves that the director has put in the time and effort to bring this beautiful piece to life.

Cedar City’s Cedar Valley Community Theatre serves the audience a treat from the very beginning of My Fair Lady, with the Overture played by a live orchestra. Live instrumentalists have become far less common in the theatre world, but the live music, conducted by Carylee Zwang, throughout the show simply adds to the magic and charm of this classic piece.

The actors’ voices are just as beautiful, and we were entranced by each character’s vocals. Elise Adams, playing Eliza Doolittle, presents a bright clear soprano as she sings through ballads and the optimistic tunes of a dreamer. Her bright tune brings you into the story as she interacts with the other characters on stage, moving with purpose and bringing life to the dynamic Eliza. Dean Jones embraces the role of Henry Higgins with a rich baritone voice. His charming masculinity creates the egotistical character that makes everyone want to be mad at Jones. His portrayal of Henry Higgins is one you won’t want to miss. One of our personal favorites is Jacob Chipman in the role of Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s father. Not only does he have a voice that is pleasant to the ears, but he cleverly infuses the ridiculous and comedic aspects of his character as he sings and dances across the stage.

Through Sarah Shelley’s music direction, every song is filled with mesmerizing harmonies and captivating tunes. In each song, the ensemble as well as the lead characters are clear and it was delightful to listen to them all blend as a chorus.

A particularly important aspect to the show is the drastic difference between the accents and dialects of the cockney characters versus the posh, upper class Londonites. All actors, from leads to ensemble, have charming British accents, each distinct to their station and location of life. Many actors even fall into multiple roles, requiring them to learn more than one accent. It can’t be easy to learn a new accent and remain consistent throughout the show, but we have nothing to complain about on that front. We were particularly amazed by Adams’ transformation from the difficult-to-understand cockney of a street girl to the elegant tone of a society woman.

Beyond the voice, each actor portrays an attitude and charisma that is infectious. It’s impossible to watch the high-energy ensemble numbers and graceful waltzes without getting whisked away into the world of both the high and low of London society. The delightful and fun choreography done by Libby Perry had us smiling through each number. Every actor shows an obvious excitement for the characters played, songs sung, and dances danced. Even in the serious and carefully timed moments, the actors live fully in the moment and see the action through the eyes of their character.

Apart from the actors, Cedar Valley Community Theatre presents a visually stunning and intriguing set. The triumph of Noel Bauer’s set design appears in the massive yet detailed backdrops which span from floor to ceiling. Each is meticulously painted and exhibits the color and depth found on the streets of London.

Not to be outdone, Lauren Reeves’ costumes remain true to the plot and time period, while also incorporating the flavor of Cedar City itself. Eliza’s first outfit as a lady features a stunning blue dress and every man and woman is dressed to the nines at the royal ball. Perhaps the biggest triumph of Reeves’ work can be found in the Ascort horse races. In consistency with tradition, there isn’t a character to be seen that sports any color besides black and white. While every outfit is consistent to this achromatic color palette, each design is unique and we could spend hours dissecting every minute detail. We were particularly enthralled by the extravagant hats donned by the women.

To complement both the sets and costumes, Lisa Cox’s lighting design proves to bring together the visuals and feelings of the show in a cohesive and spectacular manner. The lighting contributes immensely to the emotion of each scene and brings the audience into the environment of the show. While being thrown into old time London, the lights focus our eyes onto the most important aspects of the scenes and follow each character’s journeys through the dark and light sides of the city.

This local take on a well-known classic piece had us singing the catchy tunes and wishing we knew how to waltz. It is a family-friendly production, with songs and dances that will have you humming along on the way home. Though the show, like many classic productions, runs a bit long at around 1 1/2 hours plus intermission, the seats are comfortable, and we were pleasantly surprised when intermission arrived. It was a reminder that great talent lives in abundance around every corner–even in a small town like Cedar City.

Cedar Valley Community Theatre has plenty of parking in the parking garage on the south side of the building with easy access from the quiet roads just east of the main road. There is plenty of room inside of the theater, with general seating, so if you like to sit close to the stage or in the center seats, it’s best to get there early! The seats are comfortable and roomy, and they have concessions for purchase in the lobby.

Come and join the fantastic Cedar Valley Community’s spell-binding production of My Fair Lady. You’ll be ‘appy you did.

Cedar Valley Community Theatre Presents My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
Heritage Center Theater, 105 N 100 E, Cedar City, UT 84720
May 31, June 1, 3, 6-8, 2024, 7:30 PM
Tickets: Adults $15; Seniors 55+, Students with ID, Children 3-12 $10
Cedar Valley Community Theatre Facebook Page

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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