(Posted 1 p.m., April 12)
production of Broadway classic hits all the right notes
By Fred Sherwin
Eliza Doolittle, who is played by Natasha
Gaucher, dances in the arms of the Prince
of Transylvania, played by Brady Mackenzie,
during the Sir Wilfrid Laurier production
of 'My Fair Lady'. Fred Sherwin Photo
Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School drama teacher Sonya
Schrum decided her class should take on the Broadway classic
"My Fair Lady", she had no idea how ambitious
the choice would end up being.
With a cast of 31, a production crew of
23 and a 27-piece orchestra, they defiantly had their
work cut out for themselves. But thanks to the dedication
and commitment of the entire cast and crew, including
Grade 11 student Amanda Collie who led a five member team
in designing and making over 100 costumes, they somehow
managed to pull it off.
result is a wonderfully entertaining production that will
be revised in a somewhat scaled-down version in the Edinburgh
Fringe Festival in August.
last of four performances at Sir Wilfrid Laurier was held
in front of full house on Friday night.
like the Broadway production, the play opened with the
entire cast promenading in front of Convent Garden, resplendent
in their Edwardian garb. It is during the opening scene
that the audience is introduced to Eliza Doolittle, a
flower girl with a strong cockney accent.
she attempts to sell some flowers to another of the lead
characters, Colonel Pickering, she notices another man
furiously taking notes while he eavesdrops on them. Thinking
he's a policeman, the young Eliza admonishes him. But
as it turns out he's a phonetics professor who specializes
in identifying different English dialects which he believes
are an abomination on proper English. This leads to the
first musical number of the play "Why Can't the English?"
sung by Ryan Griffith who is perfectly cast as the scientifically
detached Professor Higgins.
than sing in the traditional sense, Griffith sings in
a speaking voice that is perfect for the character and
in perfect balance for the incredible voice of Natasha
Gaucher, who managed to overcome treatment for ovarian
cancer during the past year to take on the very demanding
role of Eliza Doolittle.
the treatments had the effect of deepening her voice,
it created an interesting counter-balance to the higher
female voices in the cast which worked out perfectly.
voice, particularly in her first solo "Just You Wait",
performances that stood out for me was Kirsten Mainwood,
whose portrayal of Professor Higgin's maid, Mrs. Pearce
almost stole the shoe, and Liam Scwisberg, who played
Doolittle's admiring suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill, and
has arguably the best singing voice in the cast.
rest of the cast did a great job as well, including Katie
Gratton as Mrs. Hopkins; Connor Maloiney as Eliza's hard-drinking
father Alfred Doolittle;and Brady Mackenzie, who plays
the Prince of Transylvania, a former student and rival
to Professor Higgins. But where the rest of the cast really
shone was during the chorus numbers starting with "I
Could Have Danced All Night", "Ascot Gavotte"
and "Get Me To The Church On Time".
musical highlights included the "Rain in Spain"
duet between Eliza and Professor Higgins; Higgins' solo
"Hymn to Him"; and, of course, Freddy's solo
"On the Street Where You Live" sung by the aforementioned
what separated the production from many of the other high
school plays I've seen this year was the costuming, the
orchestral accompaniment and the individual headseat mics
which allowed the audience to hear every word.
Sir Wil production of "My Fair Lady" is only
the sixth Canadian high school production that has been
invited to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival over
the past 20 years.
Fringe, as it is known in England, is the world's largest
arts festival spanning 25 days and totaling more than
2,695 shows from 47 countries in 279 venues.
invitation was actually extended to the theatre production
class last spring. Schrum whole-heartedly accepted the
invitation after attending the festival last summer.
those students who can make it, it's going to be the experience
of a lifetime," says Schrum.
Several members of the cast of 'My Fair Lady'
will be taking the production to the Edinburgh
Fringe Festival in August. Fred Sherwin Photo
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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