MY FAIR LADY (Dancap/Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre of Great Britain). To May 31. 416-872-1111. See listings. Rating: NN
This Lady may dance all night, but she steps on toes in the process.
Director Trevor Nunn’s touring version of the classic Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical tells the familiar tale of the flower seller transformed by elocution lessons into a woman who can pass as upper class, or at least a respectable shopgirl. Too bad it doesn’t generate much excitement, despite one memorable performance and choreography that kicks the dance numbers into high gear.
The standout is Lisa O’Hare. Her Eliza Doolittle takes a while to get going, but O’Hare shows the fire in this flower girl, whose transformation brings with it an understanding that she can’t easily fit in anywhere. O’Hare, a fine singer, understands Eliza’s emotions, including her amazement at linguistic success; she can also modulate from the first act’s hot anger to the cold anger of the second.
Christopher Cazenove’s Higgins, though, is often bland. He captures the man’s self-involvement but rarely suggests the unrealized emotions that Eliza stirs in his character, even in the final I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face, by which point the tired Cazenove seems to have run out of steam.
Matthew Bourne’s choreography energizes the show, especially in the music-hall numbers with the loquacious Alfred Doolittle (Tim Jerome) and the clever comedy of the Ascot races scene, where the lords and ladies suggest cantering, bucking horses. It’s here, too, that Anthony Ward’s costumes, in tones of shimmering, elegant black, impress the most.