A loverly production of "My Fair Lady"

Several MusicalFare debuts add up to a smashing show--catch it while you can!

Christian Brandjes, 2nd from the right, as Henry Higgins, and Edith Grossman, center, as Eliza Doolittle, head up a swell production.

Courtesy of MusicalFare

I don’t know Susan Drozd, the director of MusicalFare’s current production of My Fair Lady, that well. But I do know her well enough to recognize her bubbly personality, her sometimes deliriously positive take on life, and her almost gravity-defying ability to interpret emotion into body language—and to recognize all this in her directorial stylings.

Drozd, making her debut as a director at MusicalFare, has floated her version of the classic Lerner and Loewe musical play with the company’s and artistic director Randy Kramer’s imprimatur; the company fosters a well-deserved reputation for handling musicals adeptly for their space and budgetary circumstances—both are small.

It’s a pleasure to see Christian Brandjes, as Henry Higgins, on stage and in command. As the director of the Buffalo Soundpainting Ensemble, he has directed Drozd before, so the turnabout seems fair—and welcomed by both parties. Drozd plumbs Brandjes’ comedic and singing talents, and he rises with aplomb to the occasion.

The revelation here is Edith Grossman, a young actress fresh to the Buffalo stage. As Eliza Doolittle, Grossman's delicate beauty, strong voice and willowy presence combine endearingly.

The play is a classic, full of recognizable tunes and lyrics that will have you humming, singing or even gamboling on your way out. In the unlikely event you don't know it, from the vantage point of George Bernard Shaw’s original 1913 social satire, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady presents a classic romantic comedy gambit; two gentlemen bet that one of them, a professor, can pass off a simple flower girl as a “laydee.”  Who can't guess that the snobby professor will find his comeuppance at the hands of said flower-girl?

The set, by Chris Schenk, the choreography, by Kristy Schupp, and the musical direction, by Jason Bravo (who, along with Griffin Kramer provide all four hands of piano accompaniment), are all triumphs of brevity and creativity. Their combined use of space and sound convey the story, with its outrageous plot points, beautifully.

The supporting cast is terrific, more than game; enthusiastic and convincing. Doug Crane as Col. Pickering is a charmer. And, with many castmembers in multiple roles, Kari Drozd’s eye for costume design (perhaps genetically complimenting her sister’s direction and makeup, hair and wig work) supports the vision strongly.

Channeled through the classic American viewpoint of Lerner and Loewe in the 1950s and trimmed to fit on the MusicalFare stage, it is a fine entertainment.

If you don’t see it by next weekend, you’ll lose your chance at it. And that’s the bleedin’ troof, it is!

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