2005-07-29 / Community

RTC’s ‘My Fair Lady’ Is Loverly

A Wave Review

A Wave Review

Buy a flower from a hungry girl. The flower girls of Convent Garden,Buy a flower from a hungry girl. The flower girls of Convent Garden, It looks like the Rockaway Theatre Company has brought another hit production to the Post Theater in Fort Tilden. July 15 and 16 marked the opening weekend of My Fair Lady and distinguished itself as the most successful opening weekend in the RTC’s eight-year history. Favorable “Word of Mouth” must have emanated from the large opening night crowd because by the second evening of the show the house was completely sold-out. Both performances garnered standing ovations from delighted audiences.

The Cockney girls.
The Cockney girls. “I really enjoyed this, I hated to see it end” remarked Marilyn Russo of Belle Harbor as she exited the theater. Tracy Hubbard of Breezy Point concurred, “The set and costumes are just breathtaking”. Melanie Samuels of Bay Ridge added, “Everything about this performance was simply superb.” R.M.A.C. President Barbara Eisenstadt, saw the show on Friday evening with her husband, Marvin, and their charming grandchildren. When Marvin was forced to leave on an urgent matter after Act I, he was so disappointed that he came back on Saturday night to see the rest of the show. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer also enjoyed the show tremendously and admitted to appreciating the performance all the more thanks to the comfort of the air-conditioning for which her office had generously secured the funding.

Pat Bishop, Andrew Harwood and Diane Agnelli at AscotPat Bishop, Andrew Harwood and Diane Agnelli at Ascot The enthusiasm of audience members in this case is certainly well founded. The costumes in this production, created by the very talented designer/seamstress, Margaret Golden-Vivino, were indeed exquisite. The couture for the Ascot Raceway scene alone, loosely based on Cecil Beaton’s famous black, white and gray designs, was a “Dashing, absolutely smashing” sight to behold.

Nancy Vardakis as the Queen.
Nancy Vardakis as the Queen. Kudos to James Cantirino and Frank Caiati of Brooklyn for designing the incredible sets. All of London is beautifully depicted in the background while Covent Garden comes alive with activity in the foreground. Walter Birkhold’s vocal and orchestral direction allows the audience to rediscover, and fall in love with, Lerner and Loewe’s phenomenal score all over again. Most praiseworthy of all was the performance of this most excellent cast.

Nancy Kelly-Sturgis as the title character, Eliza Doolittle, went from a coarse and dirty cockney flower girl to a sophisticated and beautiful lady, bringing to mind a lovely and graceful young Audrey Hepburn. But the beautiful voice was “Julie Andrews” all the way. The final strains of “I Could Have Danced All Night” brought thunderous applause from an adoring audience. Nancy’s performance was well matched by that of her costar, Max Roll, as Professor Henry Higgins. Cast member Cathy Murfitt summed it up with her comment, “You know this actor does a terrific job, because as the play continues, the women in the audience really begin to dislike Higgins.” Roll can sing as well as act and his rendition of the famous “Hymn to Him” is both amusing and melodic.

Nancy Sturgis as Eliza Doolittle.Nancy Sturgis as Eliza Doolittle. These wonderful principal actors are backed by an extraordinary ensemble and an excellent supporting cast. Some noteworthy performances are those of Robert Fahn as the comical and often confounded Colonel Pickering who displays his natural affinity for the tango during the wonderful “Rain In Spain”. Lisle Weston does a marvelous job as Henry’s elegant and aristocratic mum. David Risley, a marvelous tenor, cuts a dashing figure as young Freddy Einsford-Hill and his rapturous rendition of “On the Street Where You Live” meets with equally rapturous applause. Director, John Gilleece, always a scene-stealer, is hilarious as Liza’s immoral and often inebriated father, Alfred P. Doolittle, “A philosophical genius of the first order ” who regales the audience with some of his unique philosophy in tunes like “Get Me to the Church On Time”

The Cast of the RTC’s “My Fair Lady” poses for the camera.The Cast of the RTC’s “My Fair Lady” poses for the camera. The show culminates with the distribution of beautiful carnations, courtesy of Mrs. Nancy Vardakas, by the cast. The Covent Garden Flower Market spills into the audience and all realize that in seeing this show they have truly had “A Little Bit of Luck”.

This is definitely a My Fair Lady which should not be missed. The quality of performance rivals any that can be found both on and off Broadway at a far more reasonable cost. The comfortable Post Theater in Breezy Point is air-conditioned and handicap accessible and, unlike the Broadway theater district, offers plenty of free parking. The show runs weekends through August 6, but tickets are going quickly. Call 718-850-2450 immediately to make your reservations. See My Fair Lady, before it’s too late. It truly is “Loverly”!

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