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Review: “My Fair Lady” at TPAC

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Belmont students use code BRUINS for 15% off price levels 2-4 for all performances with the exception of Saturday evening. “My Fair Lady” plays at TPAC from February 4-9.

Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center transported audiences to 1912 London this week with the showing of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.”

Centered around Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller played by Shereen Ahmed, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor played by Laird Mackintosh, the play details the tedious journey to transform Eliza into a “proper lady.”

The set design was subtle — the color scheme painted the theater with a dreamy ambience.

As the show progressed, more 3D set pieces were introduced into the narrative, helping audience members immerse themselves into the plot as the stage rotated between four sets.

The most detailed and extravagant set was Professor Higgins’ two-floor office lined with books and containing a view of a small garden. Even though it incorporated some 2D elements, the props made it feel as if the professor’s office were real, complete with a gramophone and a spiral staircase.

The costumes added to the 1912 period storyline with different colors and textured fabrics. The flower sellers were layered in long, mismatched dresses, shawls and hats. The royals and the wealthy wore long, flowy gowns with enough added sparkle to adorn their outerwear that perfectly fitted their bodies.

Eliza’s progression from a flower seller to a faux duchess was displayed in her costume changes throughout the show. Her gowns became more feminine and ladylike as her training furthered. By the end of the show, her style had evolved into an image of high class and all that she had worked to become.

At times, the affectations of the different English accents were hard to understand and felt forced, as did the acting. But there were enough familiar songs to make the 3 ¼-hour show worth sitting through.

When the acting shone, though, it did so with character. The chemistry behind the trio, Eliza, Henry and Col. Pickering, played by Kevin Pariseau, and the company helped charm audiences, creating a comical mood behind a deep and relevant storyline.

Amidst today’s current events revolving around women, the themes in this musical felt relevant and important, now more than ever.

Eliza is treated as a dress up doll instead of a human being and is referred to as “baggage,” among many other names — but she molds herself into a fierce young woman who learns that she is worthy and capable to be part of the higher class.

The audience endured Eliza’s struggle to prove that she is strong and can achieve what she puts her mind to.

While the story withheld a happy ending, the audience was left to ponder issues of female equality and gender struggles both then and today.

This article by Tina James. Photos courtesy of TPAC.

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