|Holyoke High School musical cast amazes audience with 'My Fair Lady'|
|Written by Darci Tomky|
By George, they’ve done it! Once again the HHS drama department dazzled the stage in an impressive production of My Fair Lady. Audiences witnessed everything from cheering at horse races and waltzing at a ball to endless speech lessons and even a mock bull fight at the March 27 and 28 performances.
Director Drew Peregoy rose to the challenge with his second shot at directing and his first musical. Countless hours of rehearsal and set construction certainly paid off for the young director.
A seasoned veteran, Pat Wiebers took charge of the music as she directed and accompanied the young performers. Her piano playing and vocal direction certainly completed the wonderfully orchestrated acting as directed by Peregoy. Wiebers also organized the costumes including everything from top hats to ball gowns.
Blake Mari stepped in to do the lighting, and Bob Heldenbrand ran the sound. Along with Peregoy, John Durbin, Brittany Durbin and April Peregoy contributed to the set construction.
My Fair Lady, with books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture Pygmalion. A magnificent cast of both high school and junior high students took the stage for this musical set in early 20th Century London.
Playing the arrogant phonetics teacher, Duncan Brandt took full command of the stage as Professor Henry Higgins. The adventure begins as he happens upon a high strung, uneducated flower girl named Eliza Doolittle, played by Ella Stewart. Higgins makes the mighty claim that with six months of his superior speech lessons he could “pass you off as the Queen of Sheeba.”
With every “ow” and “gaud,” Stewart captured the audience’s heart. Her captivating emotions and amazing vocals were the perfect match to Brandt’s first-rate acting that demanded the audience’s attention from the start.
Taylor Haidle was simply charming in his portrayal of Colonel Pickering, Higgins’ new acquaintance. He is a brilliant complement to Brandt as they watch Eliza’s transformation. When she finally masters the phrase, “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” the trio had the audience rolling in the aisles after dancing the tango, a playful sword fight and Haidle’s hilarious rendition of a bull fight.
The always sensible housekeeper Mrs. Pearce, played by Nora Roth, attempts to bring order to Higgins’ house. Roth, along with Sarah Heermann and Nicole Brandt, the maids, contribute to the fine singing and acting as Eliza learns how to behave as a lady and as she dreamily sings “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
In contrast to the fancy wallpaper and delectible chocolates at Higgins’ house, My Fair Lady also gave the audience a look at the lower-class on the streets of London. Cast members Wyatt Bishop, Ryan Parker, Phillip Beck and Brent Vasa used brooms as creative props in intricate choreography for Eliza’s song “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.”
Complete with an English accent, Brian DeBoer had the audience laughing with his role as Eliza’s father, Alfie Doolittle, who was always looking out for number one. DeBoer was joined by Jordan Zeiler (Jamie) and Cody Fricke (Harry) creating a fabulous trio for the songs “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
Other townspeople joining in on the chorus numbers include Brooke Parker, Megan Colglazier, Briar Bergner, Marci Vasa, Becca Brandt, Whitni Redman, Alex Quintana, Teanna Clark and Mariah Struckmeyer.
Eliza’s first test is a public outing to the Ascot Racecourse. She successfully engages in small talk with Mrs. Eynsford-Hill (Brittany Durbin), Mrs. Higgins (LeAnne McWilliams), Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Chris Garcia) and Lord Boxington (Preston King). The cast convincingly portrays the part of the upper class with their fancy hats and snobbish accents.
Even though Eliza has an unfortunate outburst at the conclusion of the horse races, she recovers beautifully at the ball. Here she impresses Zoltan Karpathy, played by Eveliina Rantanen, and even the queen, played by Sydney Nelson. Clad in pearls, top hats and ball gowns, the cast is delightful as they waltz across the stage.
Stewart takes the audience through a range of emotions including anger and rage as she sings “Just You Wait” just before leaving the conceited professor.
Former HHS student, Chris Garcia, rose to the occasion as he took on the character of Freddy Eynsford-Hill. After developing an infatuation with Eliza, he gracefully sings “On the Street where You Live” while he patiently waits for her.
The talented cast was complete with LeAnne McWilliams’ role as Mrs. Higgins. With a composed yet witty demeanor, she comforts Eliza saying, “Not only did you dance with the prince, you behaved like a princess.”
At the conclusion of the musical, Brandt surprises the audience with stunning vocals in “I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face” at his realization that he simply doesn’t want to live without Eliza.
All in all, HHS took My Fair Lady to the next level with absolutely superb acting and fantastic singing topped off with impressive costumes, set construction and choreography. Bravo!