A film classic opens the Huron Country Playhouse 2008 season as Grand Theatre artistic director Susan Ferley directs My Fair Lady, running June 3 until June 21.
Encountering Eliza Doolittle, a “curbstone flower girl with a lower class Cockney accent” on the street, linguist Henry Higgins believes he can transform her into a duchess. A fellow linguist, Colonel Pickering, wagers he cannot, and Higgins accepts the wager.
Mairi Babb plays Eliza, Doug Hughes plays Higgins, and Keith Dinicol plays Col. Pickering.
“It’s a great story based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion,” Ferley says. “So many of the songs within this musical stood on their own and have been recorded endlessly over the years.”
“George Bernard Shaw is talking about how society can define itself in such archaic ways and he finds some humour in how the upper classes behave. Ultimately, he makes the point that at its base, there’s a humanity that unites us all.”
One hundred years later, it seems the tables have turned for the Henry Higgins’ of the world: the upper class is turning to the Cockney accent.
“What we found in our research for this play is now, the Cockney sound is viewed as attractive. Jamie Oliver the chef has made it a popular sound. What’s happening now is the younger people who would be part of the upper class don’t want to separate themselves to that degree. They’re often adapting their sound to a street sound. But it’s almost 100 years later that we’re hearing and recognizing a change.
“There still are class distinctions. But it’s less to do with how you sound and look.”
No matter how you sound or look, Ferley wants to see you in the theatre to enjoy the atmosphere created by the cast and crew.
“There’s a lovely spirit around this theatre. The people love what they do.”
If you want to be part of the spirit, the Playhouse is always looking for volunteers of a full range of ages to do various theatre tasks, and for housing for actors within the community.