Thursday October 19th 2017

“Pygmalion”

Pygmalion-5-300x200 For many years, after watching the many versions of “My Fair Lady” that Chicago theater’s have produced, we often forget about the original that caused this musical to be written- “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw. Now, celebrating 100 years since it was written, two of our smaller theater companies, BoHo Theatre and Stage Left Theatre have joined together to bring us a sparkling production of this wonderful story about  class and manners. These two companies have opted to use the original script ( so as not to be confused with the movie version that many recall) and one can hear the words that are used to create many of the songs in the musical version in the beauty of Shaw’s words.

Smoothly directed by Vance Smith in Theater Two at Theater Wit, a 99 seat , intimate venue that allows us to be very close to the action ( very close, indeed) on a divinely creative set by Eleanor Kahn, this two hours ( 10 minute intermission) flows as if much shorter. They have cleverly inserted some humming and whistling of music from “Lady” which will bring a smile to your face, but i sonly a reminder of “what become of Shaw’s work”. The actors also help to move the set an dprops around ( Cassy Shillo has some wonderful props) an dthe costumes by Theresa Ham are very top-notch indeed. The lighting (Jessica Harpeneau) is divine and Lindsay Bartlett’s dialect coaching proved to be very authentic.

While the technical parts of the recipe are perfect, it is the actors that make this play as outstanding a sit is and take our minds away from the musical that we have been over exposed to over the years. Steve O’Connell takes Henry Higgins to new heights adding just a bit of playfulness to this  dialect expert who takes on the lovely flower girl,Eliza Doolittle ( a delightful portrayal by Mouzam Makkar), on a bet that he can convert her from lowly Cockney flower girl  into a “proper Lady”. His co-hort and companion in this venture ( who also takes on the bet) is Colonel Pickering ( deftly handled by Sandy Elias). Watch we watch is the transformation process from start to success and the effects that it has on all the parties involved.                                                                                         Pygmalion-4-300x200

There are also wonderful performances by Lisa Herceg as Henry’s mother ,Mrs. Higgins ( a far more important role in this script than the musical) and the incredible Mark Pracht as Eliza’s estranged father Mr. Doolittle, who also goes through a major transformation. The Eynsford-Hill family members are Laura Sturm as the mother, Rebecca Mauldin as daughter Clara and Charles Riffenburg as nerdy Freddie. Mrs. Pearce is handled to perfection by Stephanie Sullivan and the two ensemble members,Jeannie Saracino and Zev Valancy fill out the dance card. Incidentally, there is no race scene and no ball, but in fact a garden party that we never see, but only hear about. The true beauty of this production is that we do not miss the music Not at all! Instead, we get a better idea of what Shaw was saying about women’s rights and their place in society.We also learn about ego and the true difference between man and women and how  over the years, despite the many changes we have seen in attitudes, we are not yet a perfect society.

This production is one that you should mark your date book to see, but you only have until February 10th with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Theater Wit is located at 1229 West Belmont Avenue, and as I said earlier, 99 seats is all they have, so I would not wait to order the tickets ( by the way, this is open seating)

Tickets  are $25 ( a bargain for theater this strong) and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-975-8150 or online at www.BoHoTheatre.com or www.StageLeftTheatre.com

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com , go to review round-up and click at “Pygmalion”

Thank you BoHo and Stage Left cor bringing your companies together to bring us something very memorable.

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