It's always tempting to delve into the deeper meaning of a play, unveiling the social commentary and morality below the surface. The classic musical My Fair Lady, set in 20th century London, is about a professor who gives diction lessons to a young Cockney woman who sells flowers. The goal is to make her sound more like a "lady."
Volumes have been written about its take on class struggle and gender inequality but when it comes down to it, My Fair Lady—particularly Idaho Shakespeare Festival's production—is at its core, an immensely enjoyable musical filled with wonderful songs and inarguably talented performers.
Supported by a seasoned cast and veteran director Victoria Bussert, the production relies heavily on the musical skill of the cast and supporting live orchestra. With no fewer than 20 songs, My Fair Lady is almost a concert with a storyline and, while ISF's simple set served as more of a backdrop than a key piece of the story, it effectively enhanced the stand-out performances of Tom Ford as Professor Henry Higgins and Jillian Kates as Eliza Doolittle. The leads embraced their characters' idiosyncrasies, from the professor's arrogance to Eliza's plucky yet vulnerable nature.
M.A. Taylor, another recognizable face to regular ISF audiences, also offers a stellar performance. As Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, he is not only comic relief but steals every scene he's in. Also deserving of praise are the seven members of the orchestra who, though unseen, play one of the most important roles in the musical. It's hard to even quantify what a difference live music makes to a production like this.
Any fan of musicals, especially the classics, should see ISF's My Fair Lady—it's full of moments that are simply loverly.
The performance, Project Flux Meets Contrappunto at MING, was conceived Nov. 7—the day before the election—and performed Nov. 12 and 13; but there are clear lines to be drawn between it and sociopolitical angst.