Classic musical stops at Emens Auditorium

Grade: B+

Eliza Doolittle talked her way into 20th century English aristocratic society Sunday night in Emens Auditorium.

As part of the venue's Artist Series, Troika's touring production of "My Fair Lady" stopped in Muncie for a single show and told the story of a flower girl who is transformed into a high class English woman by Professor Henry Higgins after learning to speak properly.

This storyline, based on George Bernard Shaw's original play "Pygmalion," played itself out in a nearly three-hour show. The performance was long, but signature songs in the production, such as "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "The Rain in Spain," made the show worth its length.

The cast members in the production were equally convincing in their roles, and did well creating a difference between the Cockney accents and the aristocratic language.

The only character who did not maintain this consistency of dialect was Lauren Kling as Doolittle. Her appearance and acting abilities proved her worthy of the role, but as she sang "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," she dropped the "er" sound in "Loverly." By pronouncing "Lovely" instead of "Loverly," she did not keep with the accent her character was supposed to have at that point in the production.

Kling made up for her previous actions, however, in the song "Just You Wait." As she blasted Higgins for forcing her to repeat vowel sounds, she belted out the piece in her well-delivered Cockney accent.

The other leading actor, Tom Henry, in the role of Higgins, depicted his character well as an arrogant and self-absorbed individual with facial expressions and an overly condescending tone of voice.

At the end of the production, his character was just as rude as he was in the beginning, insulting Doolittle by calling her baggage and a heartless, gutless snipe. All together, the character of Higgins insulted Doolittle 17 times throughout the show.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the show was the costumes Doolittle wore. She began wearing a violet skirt with a mismatched orange scarf, and ended wearing a lavender gown complete with a train at its end. In the horse race scene, Doolittle matched the aristocrats onstage with a black and white dress.

One woman onstage wore a feathered hat at least two feet in diameter. Overall, the best costume was Eliza's sequined white dress with a red velvet overcoat which she wore to a ball she attended with Higgins.

The climax of the show's storyline occurred after the ball, when Eliza realized the height of Higgins' egotism and temporarily walked out on him.

When Higgins found Eliza, she told him, "The difference between a girl and a lady is not how she behaves, but how she is treated" -- a lesson that cuts to the core of cultural differences in society even today.


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