Harper’s Other Dad and I subscribe to the local Symphony’s “Classical” series. There are 10-11 concerts each year of traditional symphony orchestra fare; mostly long-dead Germans and Russians with the occasional living American thrown into the mix. Like many orchestras, ours also has a “Pops” series. We don’t attend Pops concerts often but occasionally some conflict will arise causing us to miss a Classical concert so we exchange the tickets for something in the Pops series.
Such was the case this year with Brahms’ Piano Concerto #2. Harper’s Other Dad was jetting off to the Bloggerpalooza weekend so I visited the Box Office in search of a replacement, for the concert… not for Harper’s Other Dad. Because it was late in the season my choices were limited. We could attend an evening of the Symphony performing the music of the Rolling Stones or the Symphony teamed with a local theater company to present a concert version of My Fair Lady. Sorry Mick, that’s a no-brainer. I do love me show tunes. Besides, the idea that the orchestra “laid a divorcée in New York City” conjured too much of a mental ‘etch-a-sketch’ image.
My Fair Lady was an outstanding evening and just plain fun! Frederick Loewe’s score lends itself well to a full orchestra so it sounded terrific. And the Phoenix Theatre outdid themselves. Sometimes “concert versions” of musicals are no-frills affairs; a row performers onstage who step forward for solos or ensemble numbers in a show strung together with only minimal recitatives for context. That was not the case here. The performers were costumed, and had costume changes. There were furniture groupings and set decorations to suggest the Higgins drawing-room and the street scene outside Covent Garden.
There was more choreography than I’d expected. They had limited space on the narrow section of stage in front of the Symphony but the production numbers were athletic and very effective.
Most surprising of all, rather than limited recitatives before each song, they did entire sections of dialogue. They did not perform the complete book and some sections were heavily edited but the overall effect was a more complete staging of the show than I had expected.
My only (very minor) disappointment is they included one of my favorite scenes in the show but cut some of my favorite lines from it. It’s a minor thing. I went expecting a string of the songs with little or no dialogue. I had no expectations I’d see any of the scene at Ascot. Still, I felt the need to seek it out on Youtube when I came home.
I guess we’ll never know what become of that new straw hat.