Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Fair Lady a Rainy Day Treat

Thanks to my favourite entertainment venue, the John Labatt Centre, and their Broadway in London series, I had the chance to attend the one-night-only performance of the classic “My Fair Lady” in the highly coveted position of JLC Reviewer. Those who know me well know there are two things I love: live musical theatre and free date nights. Needless to say, next Wednesday evening will not be nearly as fun as this one was!

I will admit that going into this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never seen My Fair Lady, nor had I yet experienced a “Broadway in London” performance, however I was pleasantly surprised by both.

First, the theatre – how the staff of the JLC is able to take a hockey rink and transform it into an intimate live theatre venue is nothing short of remarkable, but by George, they did it. It seemed like every seat would be a great one, and other than the side boards, the jerseys hanging from the rafters, and the patrons enjoying plastic cups of beer, I could have imagined myself sitting at the Grand. It was charming to see the typical ‘theatre crowd’ all dolled up and ready to take in a dose of culture as well...not what I expected, but adorable to witness.

As for the play – I will admit I have become a bit of a theatre snob, spoiled by big, modern, flashy musicals with grandiose sets, people flying across the stage and stars who are household names, so I had to put all that aside for this production. Once I did that, and was able to focus on the talent in front of me, I realized that for a cast that spends each night on a different stage in a different city, this group was incredibly talented. I have been told by others that if you’re a fan of the movie version of this show, featuring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, this production paled in comparison. If, however, you were experiencing it for the first time like I was, it was a perfectly ‘loverly’ show.

Many of the cast are relative newcomers to the live stage (some recent college grads) according to the program, but they clearly were far from amateur caliber. I couldn’t imagine being on the road away from friends and family for weeks and months of the year, but the strain of that certainly didn’t show on stage. The voices were well trained, the lines committed to memory and the orchestra in fine form.

The story was a love story of sorts, which I'll leave you to read about on Wikipedia as I did prior to the show, however, I will suggest that in modern times I think you would be hard pressed to find a woman willing to endure what I would describe as a mildly abusive relationship. I am, however, a princess, so perhaps I just have a lower tolerance level for being yelled at constantly?

Once again, the John Labatt Centre has proven itself as a versatile venue catering to all Londoners. While it was strange sitting in the audience without a cowboy hat on for yet another A1 country concert experience, I would not hesitate to take in another Broadway in London performance at the fabulous RBC Theatre. And ‘with a lil’ bit of luck’, perhaps I will again soon!