The Corvallis High School Music Department's is putting on a high-energy production of the classic “My Fair Lady” Nov. 2-4.
The performance is directed by Nancy Brown, Emily Athman and Doug McConnaha. The musical is based on George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” with book, music and lyrics by Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
Brown said “My Fair Lady” is one of her favorite musicals.
“It is a fantastic family friendly show that will transport you back to Edwardian England,” Brown said. “The comic timing and interaction between cast members is only one of the reasons to attend this production.”
“My Fair Lady” is the tale of society and classes where a Cockney flower girl is transformed into an elegant lady by a pompous English professor, due to a challenge.
Audrey Hepburn played Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison portrayed Henry Higgins, on the silver screen in 1964.
Corvallis senior Zoe Brower will portray Eliza and said it is “an absolute dream.”
“Being allowed to play Eliza in ‘My Fair Lady’ is one of the most glamorous parts you can get,” she said. “I love stepping in to her shoes - it’s a dream of a lifetime.”
Brower said the hardest thing was creating the accents.
“I have to do three different accents for Eliza and show her transformation,” she said.
Brower has been in local productions including “Damn Yankees,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Into the Woods” and “She Loves Me.” She and performance partner Kristen Saturday were state champions in humorous duo acting and second in dramatic duo acting last year.
Corvallis senior Nathaniel Heckeroth portrays Henry Higgins, a pompous phonetic professor who takes up the challenge of transforming Eliza to pass her off as a duchess.
Heckeroth said Higgins was the toughest character he’s ever had to portray.
“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a show,” Heckeroth said. “It’s been the most difficult role I’ve had to perform but also most rewarding.”
Heckeroth agreed accents in the production were challenging.
“Getting the perfect accent is the toughest part because the English teacher must have the perfect accent,” he said. “Nailing down his accent was my main priority and the hardest part.”
Heckeroth has been in many theatrical productions. At the Hamilton Playhouse, he has portrayed a variety of characters from a chef on a space ship in “Return to the Forbidden Planet” to Jack in “Into the Woods.” His credits include: “The Music Man,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “She Loves Me.”
On the Corvallis Speech, Debate and Drama team last year, Heckeroth placed second in humorous duo acting with performance partner Colton Mason.
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“Corvallis is the best team in the state,” he said. “Speech and Debate definitely taught me to loosen up and be more in the moment. I’ve been able to apply that to Higgins because he is such a wildly different character than who I am in real life.”
Heckeroth said that during the course of the play Eliza is changed but Higgins also has a transformation.
“He likes to believe that he hasn’t changed at all but the truth of the matter is Eliza coming in to his life made him realize that he needs a companionship that he never had before. The second that it is taken away from him he changes – he doesn’t want it, but it happens.”
Emily Athman, musical director for the performances, said the show is filled with amazing talent.
“Backing up the marvelous singing and dancing is a community of musicians; senior Kristen Saturday will be playing the piano, Martha Ilgenfritz will be playing the upright bass, and Austin Athman will be playing percussion,” Athman said. “Parr Sound out of Hamilton will be running sound for the shows.”
"My Fair Lady" features some of musical theater’s greatest scores. Songs include “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “The Rain in Spain,” ” I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
Heckeroth said his favorite song is “A Hymn for Him” also known as “Why can’t a Woman be more like a Man.”
“Higgins goes into a rant for an entire song about how it would be great if women were more like men because they are more agreeable,” Heckeroth said. “The whole world revolves around Higgins.”
Brown said Athman has done an amazing job with the musical numbers, and McConnaha has coached the talented Corvallis High School student actors to actually become their characters. She adds that the costumes are an integral part of the show.
“It has been amazing to see the brilliant work of Gretchen Spiess, Carol Petersen, and Pat Tibbs, come to life on the streets of London and at the stunning Ascot Races,” she said. “The beautiful sets – done by Kevin Silkwood and the Advanced Art classes along with the carpentry skills of Garrett Middleton and woodshop classes - help create some truly spectacular stage pictures.”
Athman said it's been a privilege to work with the cast, which is a mix of veteran thespians and students new to the stage.
“The students have learned 25 songs and 10 dance numbers in an abbreviated seven weeks," Athman said. "It was a challenge, but there is such joy among the students as the pieces all come together.”
Along with Brouwer and Heckeroth, the cast includes: Christian Jessop as Colonel Pickering; Kiley Mullen as Mrs. Higgins; Gabby Kay as Mrs. Eynsford; River Gladwin as Freddy Eynsford-Hill; Cole Herbert as Alfred P. Doolittle; Darius Nisly as a bartender; Jessica Mosbrucker as Harry; Jaida McConnell as Jamie; Macy Jacobson as Mrs. Pearce; Elsie Reed as Mrs. Hopkins; Colton Mason as Professor Zoltan Karpathy; Michaela Allred as First Cockney; Tatum Breedlove as Second Cockney; Erica Gold as Third Cockney; Shelby Jessop as Fourth Cockney; Arthur Ryan as Butler/Charles; Faith Thayer as Queen of Transylvania; Nick Wetzsteon as Lord Boxington; Kaitlyn Brion as Lady Boxington; Erica Gold as Flower Girl; Emily Seifert as Selsey Woman; Megan Bradshaw as Hoxton Woman; Jordyn Jessop as First Maid; Faith Thayer as Second Maid; Sofia Frongillo as First Busker; Myrelle Johnson as Second Busker; Izzie Devine as Angry Woman; Nick Wetzsteon as Angry Man; Colton Mason as Policeman; and Mackenzie Heller, Myrelle Johnson, Shyanne Fisch, Victoria Begersan, Shancee Herbert, and Sofia Frongillo as servants.
Brown said Corvallis High School is “fortunate to have so many school staff and community members come together to provide an exquisite theater experience."
“Come celebrate the tradition of this ‘loverly’ show,” she said
The Corvallis Performing Arts Booster Club will be holding a “donation” barbecue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Hamilton Super One to benefit the production.
The Corvallis High School Music Department’s production of “My Fair Lady” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Corvallis Old Gym. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for students and children younger than 12. Call the Corvallis High School office for tickets at 961-3201 or purchase them at the door.