2005-07-15 / Columnists

RTC Rings Up Curtain On ‘My Fair Lady” A Wave Review

Eliza, Higgins and Pickering rehearse for opening night.
Eliza, Higgins and Pickering rehearse for opening night. The excitement builds as The Rockaway Theatre Company gets ready to open its much anticipated production of one of the best loved musicals in theater history, My Fair Lady. The show opens this very weekend on July 15, at Fort Tilden and the run will continue for four consecutive weekends.

My Fair Lady follows on the heels of the RTC’’s very successful opening production, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and everyone in the company is anxious to keep up the momentum begun by this first excellent production of the season. Producer, Susan Jasper, is confident that My Fair Lady , will not disappoint:”We were very fortunate in being able to assemble a marvelous cast. With Walter Birkhold’s excellent musical direction and the fabulous score of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, how can we fail?”

Matt Roll as Henry Higgins
Matt Roll as Henry Higgins The marvelous cast consists of RTC veteran, Nancy Sturgis in the role of Eliza Doolittle. Nancy amazed audiences last summer when, playing Anna in The King and I, she continued to perform on crutches after breaking her leg midway through the show’s run. With an exquisite soprano singing voice and Audrey Hepburn cheekbones she’s the perfect Eliza.

Nancy Sturgis as Eliza Doolittle.Nancy Sturgis as Eliza Doolittle. The role of Colonel Pickering, the career soldier who, “Treats a flower girl like a duchess”, will be assumed by RTC veteran, Robert Fahn. Fahn has costarred with Nancy in several RTC productions, most notably as her King, in The King and I. Good friends outside the theater, Nancy and Rob are looking forward to reuniting on stage for this wonderful production.

Director John Gilleece works with actors.Director John Gilleece works with actors. Rounding out the trio is Prof. Henry Higgins, RTC newcomer, Max Roll. At the tender age of 22, Roll is probably one of the youngest performers to tackle the role of Henry Higgins, but he definitely seems up to the challenge. Max has great respect for the incomparable Rex Harrison, whom he feels has set the standard by which every actor stepping into Higgins’ shoes, including himself, will always be measured. Max, a native of Great Britain, presently studying at Queens College, does a truly amazing job in his portrayal of the self-centered, egotistical, woman-hating professor of linguistics.

James Cantirino paints the sets.James Cantirino paints the sets. John Gilleece, the show’s director, plays Eliza’s colorful old dad, Alfred P.Doolittle. Gilleece prefers not to assume a role in a play he is directing but, he explains, that he finally took this part as a result of pressure from his fans. “I played Nicely, Nicely in Guys and Dolls, Heinzie in Pajama Game, and Lazer Wolf in Fiddler. Last year, when I decided not to cast myself in the show, many of our regular audience members complained. So, my appearance in My Fair Lady” is a direct result of pressure from my groupies”, teased Gilleece. The role of Alfie Doolittle has actually always been one of John’s favorites in musical theatre and it shows in his performance. “Get Me to the Church on Time”, alone, is worth of the price of admission.

In fact, there is a great deal about this production that makes the price of admission a bargain: The exquisite sets, designed by Frank Caiati and James Cantirino. The fabulous costumes, created by RTC Costumier-Extrordinaire, Peggy Vivino. Finally, there’s the fine orchestra conducted by Maestro Walter Birkhold, which more than does justice to timeless and mellifluous tunes like “The Street Where You Live’, “I Could Have Danced All Night”, “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “Rain in Spain”

All of these elements make the mere $20.00 cost of admission a real “Bargain”. Don’t miss this wonderful story of a coarse little flower girl who becomes a “Consort for kings” under the tutelage of a hard and heartless old bachelor. A complete listing of the performance schedule can be found in a separate ad in this newspaper.

In its short period of existence, The Rockaway Theatre Company has garnered an excellent reputation in the world of community theatre. Performances are given in the newly air-conditioned Post Theatre at For Tilden in Breezy Point. There is always free parking and handicap accessibility. Whether you have seen an RTC production in the past or not, you’d better call the hotline at 718-850-2450 and make your reservations before all performances are sold out.

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