Nov 11, 2008

"Wouldn’t it be loverly” to be a fair lady?

by Emily DeFosse

Performances of the classic musical “My Fair Lady” began Friday night at theLloyd Auditorium. The musical is based on

 the play “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw, which is derived from an ancient Greek myth of the same title.

The story, set in 1912 England, follows a poor flower girl, Eliza Doolittle and phonetics professor, Henry Higgins. Henry spends six months teaching Eliza to talk proper English and leave her cockney lifestyle behind. However, they both end up teaching each other life lessons that change their worldviews.

The play features many famous musical numbers including: “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly” and “Get Me to the Church On Time.” The Cast of 25 Liberty students sings and dances each number with great enthusiasm, bringing life to a story that has not been told on the Liberty stage for 30 years, according to Director Linda Nell Cooper.

Junior Kayla Powell plays the female lead, Eliza Doolittle. Powell, as well as many of the other cast members, leaned to speak with a cockney accent. This was just one of the challenges she faced taking on what she believes to be the most challenging role she has ever played.

“The most challenging thing for me was learning how to throw away the original concept of Eliza as played by Audrey Hepburn,” Powell said. “She is an icon as far as this role is concerned. It is hard when someone plays the role so well before you to play it truthfully. You don’t want to just copy their performance, but you still want to respect it.”

Cooper found the growth of Powell and her male counterpart, Josh DeVries, who plays male lead Henry Higgins, one of the most rewarding aspects of the show.

“It has been very rewarding to see the actor who plays Henry Higgins play a romantic role in an intellectual way because it is very subtle,” Cooper said. “It has also been rewarding to see that with actress Kayla Powell. I’ve directed her in every show she has done here so it has been very rewarding to direct an actress I’ve directed many times and see her transform in a different type of role.”

Cooper believes that the musical is more than just a typical love story. The show is about how two people learn to find truth and beauty in each other. Eliza, who represents beauty, learns to find truth in life from Higgins. He, in turn, learns to find the beauty in life from her.

Cooper expects the play will captivate the male members of the audience, which is not always the case with musicals.

“Higgins represents this masculine way of thinking that is completely logical so I think the male population will understand the musical and really enjoy it,” Cooper said.

Prior to opening night four shows were already sold out. The play will be running for the next two weekends. For more information about performance times and tickets call (434) 582-2085 or visit the box office located in the Theater Arts Department.


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