Prospect Theater Project stages 'Pygmalion'

pclark@modbee.comMay 9, 2013 

"Pygmalion" at Prospect Theater Project.

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You know the huge musical hit "My Fair Lady," right? Film and Broadway sensation with big-show songs and lavish stage productions, iconic tunes like "Wouldn't It Be Lovely," "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "On the Street Where You Live"?

The upcoming Prospect Theater Project production of the play that the story is based on isn't like that. It's a quieter version — the one the playwright intended.

In fact, "Pygmalion," which will take the stage next week at the Gallo Center for Arts, is being billed by the theater company as " 'My Fair Lady' for people who don't like musicals."

"No singing. It is beautiful," director Jenni Abbott said in an email about the play.

George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" will be the Modesto theater troupe's 65th production since it formed in 2000. And it will be the fourth show the company has partnered with the Gallo Center to present, after a record-setting 2011 production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and 2012 offerings of "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Tartuffe."

"Pygmalion" remains Shaw's most popular play 100 years after its first production, though it's best known to modern audiences for its award-winning film and Broadway productions under the name "My Fair Lady" — particularly the 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

But the Prospect production will offer up the original story that Shaw penned — sans all that singing.

The play tells the story of British phonetics professor Henry Higgins, who claims he can transform a Cockney flower girl into a well-spoken woman within a six-month time frame. When Eliza Doolittle appears at his home seeking English lessons, Higgins takes on the challenge — with some surprising and romantic results.

"Manners, identity, gender politics and class warfare are all skewered in the well-known comedy," according to press materials from Prospect.

The production is directed by Abbott and features Prospect artistic director Jack Souza in the role of Henry Higgins and company veteran Laura Dickinson-Turner as Eliza Doolittle.

David Barbaree (Col. Pickering), Mary Pieczarka (Mrs. Higgins), Bill Roe (Alfred Doolittle), Robin Bjerke, Jon Cates, Deb Dooley, Molly Souza, Michael Hewitt, Charlotte Ferreira, Jerry Rosenthal and Roni Espinosa round out the cast.

Original music for the Modesto production has been composed by David Eakin — as underscoring for certain scenes and for scene changes, not to be belted out by the actors on stage.

Remember — this is "Pygmalion," not "My Fair Lady."

The Prospect Theater production will run Fridays and Saturdays for two weeks beginning on May 17.


WHAT: Prospect Theater Project’s “Pygmalion”

WHEN: May 17-25; 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays with a 2 p.m. matinee on May 18

WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts’ Foster Family Theatre, 1000 I St., Modesto

TICKETS: $12-$20

CALL: (209) 338-2100

ONLINE: www.galloarts.org

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