COURTESY MARK KITAOKA AND TRACY MARTINBroadway By the Bay is staging Lerner and Loewe's classic musical “My Fair Lady.”

COURTESY MARK KITAOKA AND TRACY MARTINBroadway By the Bay is staging Lerner and Loewe's classic musical “My Fair Lady.”

BBB’s ‘Lady’ not quite fair

One of the most perfectly formed musicals of Broadway’s golden age, “My Fair Lady” has a heavenly score – music by Alan Jay Lerner and lyrics by Frederick Loewe – and a sublime and solid libretto by Loewe.

It is based on George Bernard Shaw’s classic “Pygmalion,” sourced from Ovid’s poem about a sculptor falling in love with his statue, brought to life by his kiss, courtesy of a little divine intervention from the goddess Aphrodite.

If only the production at Broadway By the Bay had been so mythically blessed! Following the company’s magnificent “Les Misérables,” this Redwood City “Lady” should have danced all night. Instead, the production is more squashed cabbage leaf than embassy ball duchess. The curtains rise to a promisingly gorgeous set by Annie Dauber in and around which Eliza Doolittle (Samantha Williams) dances while silently fantasizing about owning one of the fancy dresses – lovely costumes by Valerie Emmi – that she sees in the shop windows.

Soon clouds and audience hopes burst. When Eliza and Professor Henry Higgins (Scott Solomon) first interact, his cry is “Heavens, what a sound!” It’s his one credible moment in the evening as all the lower-class accents and several of the upper have a distinctly “trying too hard” quality that becomes grating over time.

Williams is a sweet presence but lacks that “divine fire” Eliza needs to counter what should be Higgins bombast. Another discordant note is that Williams is a fine mezzo, but Eliza really needs the ebullience of a soprano to make her songs soar.

Unfortunately, nothing soars in the tight-lipped performance by Solomon, making his musical debut. His vocals are thin and the character is devoid of charisma. It’s a wonder Eliza stays with him, let alone returns at the end of the evening.

Sergey Khalikoulov is a charming puppy of a Freddy but his singing lacks passion, Praveen Ramesh gives an interestingly different take on Col. Pickering, and Kristina Hudelson could use more starch as housekeeper Mrs. Peace. The ensemble sings well in spite of the orchestra – special applause to the quartet: Kyle Arrouzte, Jesse Cortez, Joseph Hudelson and Andrew Kracht – but almost no one looks happy dancing.

The two real bright spots are parental figures Karen DeHart and Gary Stanford Jr. As Mrs. Higgins, DeHart clearly gets the sensibility of the show and is a charming combination of suffrage and suffering as Henry’s exasperated mother. As Eliza’s father, unwillingly thrust into middle-class morality, Stanford’s Alfred P. Doolittle shows off a spry and winning physicality that lights up the stage. He’s a strong center for “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time” – the only really successful production numbers of the night.

REVIEW

My Fair Lady

Presented by Broadway By the Bay

Where: Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City

When: 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes June 21

Tickets: $47 to $69

Contact: (650) 579-5565, www. broadwaybythebay.org

artsBroadway By the BayMy Fair LadyScott Solomon

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

Supporters say fare cuts could increase ridership, help low-income residents

The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Affordable housing project on former McDonald’s site delayed as city adds units

The start of construction on an affordable housing project on the site… Continue reading

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

Historic streetcars are undergoing testing on The Embarcadero to prepare for their return to service on May 15.<ins></ins>
What to expect for Muni Metro’s relaunch on May 15

Significant service restoration includes downtown subway tunnels and historic streetcars

Most Read