March 25 2015 02:12 PM

Cygnet Theatre stages adventurous rendition of the venerable Lerner & Loewe show

MyFairLady
Allison Spratt Pearce and Sean Murray
Photo by Ken Jacques

You can't do justice to a production of My Fair Lady, the Broadway classic that doesn't have a dud song in its entire musical score, without a full orchestra, right?

Wrong. Cygnet Theatre's adventurous staging of the venerable Lerner & Loewe show employs a mere six musicians, but they're just the ticket for this intimate and wholly satisfying My Fair Lady. The lady is some kind of terrific, too. Allison Spratt Pearce's Eliza Doolittle is saucy, sympathetic and courageous whenever the character of the Cockney flower girl needs to be. Spratt Pearce's singing is warm and expressive. Of course, a stellar Eliza requires an equally stellar Henry Higgins, and Cygnet's production has that, too. Artistic Director Sean Murray not only directs this My Fair Lady but co-stars as the self-important scientist of speech who—at least initially—takes Eliza on as a student to win a bet. Murray's Higgins boasts the expected arrogance and ego, but also flashes vulnerability, rare for portrayals of the misogynistic professor.

British-born local theater fixture Ron Choularton, to no one's surprise, has a ball as Alfie Doolittle, and so should audiences when time comes for "With a Little Bit o' Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time." The out standing ensemble cast also features Tom Stephenson as Col. Pickering and Linda Libby in multiple roles, Higgins' waxing-wise mother among them. Charles Evans Jr. looks the part of Eliza's dashing suitor, Freddy, but the "On the Street Where You Live" he sings is diminished by a too-jaunty arrangement.

My Fair Lady is a big, stagy Broadway show that shifts locales from the streets of London to Higgins' impeccable Wimpole Street house to the grand racetrack at Ascot. An inventive Cygnet production team including set designer Andrew Hull, lighting designer Chris Rynne and sound designer Matt Lescault-Wood magically uses this comparatively small space to best effect.

The show is so romantic and so much damned fun that almost any professional production of it is wallet-worthy. But Cygnet Theatre's My Fair Lady, which takes big risks in little ways that you may or may not perceive, is a must-see.

My Fair Lady runs through April 26 at the Old Town Theatre. $39 and up; cygnet theatre.com

Write to davidc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.
 

Opening

Sisters in the System: An original collaboration between Playwrights Project and SDSU Experimental Theatre, this play from Tori Rice tells the story of two siblings attempting to navigate the frustrating complexities of the juvenile court system. It opens for three performances Wednesday, March 25, at SDSU Experimental Theatre in the College Area. playwrightsprojects.com

Boeing Boeing: In this comical farce by Marc Camo letti, a scheming bachelor finds himself engaged to three different flight attendants only to find one day they're all scheduled to arrive at his apartment at the same time. Opens Friday, March 27, at Coronado Play house. coronadoplayhouse.com

Now playing

Oedipus El Rey: A modern take on Sophocles' classic tragedy, set not in ancient Greece but, rather, in a Southern California barrio. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through March 28 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

Anna in the Tropics: Tolstoy's Anna Karenina becomes a catalyst for workers in a Florida cigar factory in 1929. Through March 29 at Avo Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com

Baby with the Bathwater: In this comedy by Christopher Durang, a couple of not-so-great parents produce a child who grows up struggling with identity issues. Through March 29 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org

Chapter Two: A man whose wife died recently and a woman whose marriage has just ended aren't sure they're ready to start dating. You either love Neil Simon or you hate him. Through March 29 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org

God Committee: In this drama, seven people must decide which one of four individuals on a transplant waiting list will get a heart that has suddenly become available. Through March 29 at PowPAC in Poway. powpac.org

Goodbye Charlie: A womanizing writer is murdered by an angry husband and is reincarnated immediately as a beautiful woman (Lauren Bacall in the original play, Debbie Reynolds in the movie). Through March 29 at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa.lamplighterslamesa.com

You Can't Take it with You: Zany characters abound, and kooky things keep happening, in the home of Paul and Penny Sycamore. Through March 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Kin: Playwright Bathsheba Doran explores the families of Anna and Sean, who meet on an online dating site. Presented by Ion Theatre, it runs through April 4 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com

Our Lady of the Tortilla: Hijinks—and an examination of faith—ensue when a New Jersey woman sees an image of the Virgin Mary in a tortilla. Through April 4 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org

Rhinoceros: In playwright Eugene Ionesco's Theater of the Absurd work, a post-World War II comment on conformity, the inhabitants of a French town transform into rhinoceroses one by one. Through April 19 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com

Sunset Park: A widow's Brooklyn apartment building is going co-op, and her adult children sow conflict when they see an opportunity to profit. Presented by Scripps Ranch Theatre, it runs through April 19 at Legler Benbough Theatre in Scripps Ranch. scrippsranchtheatre.org

My Fair Lady: A man attempts to turn a rough-around-the-edges girl into something more sophisticated—and then develops the hots for her. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through April 26 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

The White Snake: A play based on a Chinese fable about a snake that turns into a woman, falls in love and runs afoul of a mean ol' monk. Through April 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

The Pirates of Penzance: Nine actors stranded on a desert island perform Gilbert and Sullivan's classic comic opera. Through April 29 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: In a musical based on a biblical tale, a dude who has an "amazing" garment becomes a slave, but he triumphs in Egypt regardless. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through May 31 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Win Place or Die My Jockeys are Killing Me: Mystery Café's latest comic-caper dinner-theater production is set at the Thoroughbred Club at Upson Down Race Track. It's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net

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