Saturday, August 11, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Loverly LADY at Reagle By Beverly Creasey

Here’s what the Reagle Music Theatre does better than anyone else: They can amass forty or more choristers on stage for a production number. That’s eighty tapping, twirling, accomplished feet, dancing and acting (and singing, of course) the heck out of a showstopper like “Get Me to the Church on Time.” They practically bring down the house.

Yes, Reagle has a British accent this month, presenting (husband and wife) Broadway actors, Sarah Pfisterer and Rick Hilsabeck, in MY FAIR LADY (through Aug. 19th). Yes, Pfisterer and Hilsabeck have gorgeous voices but so do the local actors Reagle is famous for. Artistic director Robert Eagle has a history of mixing Boston area actors (both Equity and Community) with Broadway pros for maximum result.

Director Larry Sousa bumps up the comedy in this MY FAIR LADY, affording extra giggles for those of us who’ve seen it a hundred times. Even Eliza gets some shtick to pull off but the best thing in Sousa’s show is Harold “Jerry” Walker as Alfred P. Doolittle. Eliza’s raucous dad steals the show “With a Little Bit of Luck” and his fond farewell to the ladies as he struggles to get himself to the altar. Sousa, music director Dan Rodriguez and choreographer Rachel Bertone fashion an English hoedown with dustmen, flower girls, buskers and Pearly royalty for the wild and wooly celebration---in direct contrast to the hilarious inertia of the Ascot Gavotte.

Cecil Beaton would be pleased with the black and white splendor at the Ascot Races--- and Eliza’s pained efforts to contain her excitement over her horse (another wonderful comic touch) made the number even more delicious. How she could resist Robert St. Laurence as Freddie is beyond me. His serenade “On the Street Where You Live” is one of this musical’s highlights…and he makes her “Show Me” even funnier by being totally clueless.

Kudos to Donna Sorbello for a wry and elegant performance as Henry’s supremely wise mother and to the Cockney Quartet, made especially delightful with David Carney’s flawless, orchestral whistling. The only hitch is Reagle’s pesky sound system (which in past performances screamed feedback but that has evidently been fixed). Alas, opening night featured major amplification and distortion problems with the microphones, especially on the high notes for the two leads.