“My Fair Lady” is a big, old-fashioned musical director Scott Edmiston has somehow fit perfectly into the intimate confines of the Lyric Stage.
The tale of a lowly street flower seller who becomes the subject of a bet between a pompous phonetics professor and a famous linguist is based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” The 1956 musical adaptation, one of Broadway’s biggest hits, boasts a score with some of the most famous songs in musical theater history.
It would be easy to let the score do all the work, but Edmiston smartly puts the focus on the characters and the story becomes more than just a vehicle to get from one well-known song to the next. It also helps that Janie E. Howland’s minimal set facilitates ease of movement and avoids the potential for clunky transitions.
At its core, “My Fair Lady” is all about the blossoming of a young lady and Jennifer Ellis proves to be just the right lady to fill the shoes of the infamous Eliza Doolittle. Though “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” sounds beautiful, her eyes tell a heartbreaking story of struggle that will change the way you listen to that song.
Ellis masters both dialects and nails the humor in her character’s transition, but there’s a wow moment when she enters the ball, followed by a stunning rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night,” that will bring chills to anyone with a pulse.
Christopher Chew is perfectly rigid and self-centered as Henry Higgins and Remo Airaldi delivers a delightful turn as Colonel Pickering.
Jared Troilo makes you forget the first act is a little long when he closes it with a rendition of “On the Street Where You Live” that’ll make you think the “loverly” “Lady” isn’t the only star of this show.
If you go
“My Fair Lady”
Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$34 - $69