The Dripping Springs High School January production, My Fair Lady, starred the talented duo of senior Trinity Adams as Eliza Doolittle and junior Connor Bailey as Mr. Higgins.
The musical tells the lighthearted comedy of a young cockney woman, Eliza, who is anything but a high class woman of England as she dresses in raggedy dresses and sells flowers at the local market. With the lack of manners and her inability to properly speak English, phonetics professor Mr. Higgins immediately notices her causing a scene at the market. Soon she sees Mr. Higgins hidden on the side taking notes about her speech, which upsets her even more. Mr. Higgins states that in six months he could transform this wretched young woman to a proper lady by teaching her how to speak, dress, and act correctly in high society. Then an older gentleman who studies Indian phonetics, Colonel Pickering (Rob Thomas), approaches Mr. Higgins as they both greet each other in excitement as they have been wanting to meet for quite some time; Mr. Higgins soon insists that Colonel Pickering stay at his home.
Pickering and Mr. Higgins discuss phonetics at his home. Mrs. Pearce (Kamrie Holmes), the housekeeper, notifies Mr. Higgins that Eliza is here to see him. Eliza asks Mr. Higgins to give her speech lessons so that she will be able to work in a flower shop, but she has barely any money to offer him. Instead, Colonel Pickering’s interest in this matter makes him propose a bet to Mr. Higgins that he would be incapable of correcting Eliza’s speech and that he would pay Mr. Higgins for her lessons. Mr. Higgins gladly accepts his bet with confidence, and Eliza is immediately sent with Mrs. Pearce to get cleaned up and settled in Mr. Higgins home.
Months pass as the Mr. Higgins and Eliza do various exercises with different technique and tools to help her speech, but it has not yet improved which causes frustrations between them both. Finally, after reciting the exercise “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” a countless amount of times, Eliza finally pronounced the syllables properly.
Therefore they attend Ascot, an elegant horse racing event, and Mr. Higgins has high hopes for Eliza’s behavior and speech. Once Eliza starts talking with people, she introduces inappropriate subjects of discussion and yells a crude remark to one of the horses during the race. Mr. Higgins realizes that Eliza wasn’t ready for Ascot and continues to teach her to prepare her for their next event: The Embassy ball.
The night for the Embassy ball arrives and Mr. Higgins, once again, has high hopes for Eliza, and this time, she does not disappoint. Eliza was the most talked about woman at the ball as she was the embodiment of class and beauty. However, once the ball is over, and once Mr. Higgins won his bet against Colonel Pickering, Mr. Higgins disregards Eliza completely saying he doesn’t need her anymore, so she leaves in the middle of the night.
Soon, Eliza stumbles across her father (Nathan Dahill) and she is shocked to find him dressed in a fancy expensive suit and that he will be getting married the next morning. Then Freddy (Michael Thornton), who greatly loves Eliza since he met her at Ascot, approaches her and wants to profess his feeling to her. However, Eliza is so tired of talking and words that she wants Freddy to show her his love, not to tell her; and so he does.
After a few hours, Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Pearce realize that Eliza has left and Mr. Higgins can’t understand why she would leave when everything was going so well.
Mr. Higgins, sad to see Eliza gone because he loves her dearly but was never able to bring himself to tell her, listens to an old recording of one of her voice lessons and closes his eyes. Then the recording from the phonograph abruptly stops and he opens his eyes to see Eliza standing in front of him, then he asks “Eliza? Where The Devil Are My Slippers?”
The DSHS ensemble of actors who took on these ambitious roles of My Fair Lady did a beyond excellent job in portraying each of these characters.
Eliza Doolittle, played by Trinity Adams, was the perfect fit. Adams executed Eliza brilliantly from beginning to end with the combination of her singing, dancing, theatrical mannerisms, and her hilarious cockney accent that had to be difficult to learn. When I found out Adams would be playing Eliza Doolittle, I had no doubt that she would be capable of filling the shoes of this big role as I greatly enjoyed her character from Noises Off a few months ago.
I was also highly impressed with Connor Bailey’s portrayal of Mr. Higgins in My Fair Lady. I especially took notice to his way of using the entire stage in his dance numbers and his extreme animation in mannerisms throughout the play.
The entire cast deserves a round of applause for their amazing dance and singing numbers, especially the dance number of Act II Scene III. To conduct a dance number as they did with that many people and of such complexity and skill was one of my favorite scenes in the entire play.
Another notable element of this production was the set. I was concerned about this at first because after seeing the 1964 film of My Fair Lady, I was unsure if they’d be able to create a set that could accommodate the different settings of the play. However, my concern vanished after seeing the first scene of the play. With the two levels of the set, the signs for the Flower Market (especially the Joe Burns sign), the staircase, and the colorful lighting and projection of various images shining through the set all together created a one of a kind set for this play. The crew did an excellent job with smooth transitions of sets between scenes.
The costumes also concerned me after seeing the film due to their extreme extravagance, especially for the Ascot racing scene. The black and white attire of the men and women were gorgeous in the movie, and turned out to also be gorgeous in the play. I was a little disappointed in Eliza’s dress in this particular scene, as well as in the Embassy Ball scene. They were wonderful dresses, but they weren’t as intricate, flamboyant, and extravagant as I thought they would be.
Overall, I give the DSHS production of My Fair Lady 4 out of 5 stars. For the theater department to tackle such a classic and timeless musical such as My Fair Lady deserves the utmost respect and applause. However, I felt at some parts of the play, it droned on for a little too long and there were minor discrepancies in the set.
I also really enjoyed the fact they incorporated a live orchestra; they did a wonderful production of the music, especially how they began the musical.
The capability and productions of DSHS never cease to amaze and only get better and better each time. I am looking forward to their next project The Marowitz Hamlet as I’m sure will be another hit.
Written by Alyssa Weinstein