Doolittle, Too Late

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San Francisco Playhouse

450 Post
San Francisco, CA 94102

Category: Theaters

Region: Union Square/ Financial District

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The most salient status symbols in the London of My Fair Lady aren’t walking sticks and pocket watches but diphthongs and fricative H’s. In the Lerner and Loewe musical, norms of speech are so codified by class that phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Johnny Moreno) can guess a Londoner’s origins down to the very street only by eavesdropping on a few vowel sounds. Flower peddler Eliza Doolittle (Monique Hafen) is easy to peg, with Cockney that makes an “oh” into an “aaaaaaah-ow-ooh.” But is she as easy to teach? Higgins bets with his colleague Colonel Pickering (Richard Frederick) that, with six months of elocution lessons, he can transform the “draggletailed guttersnipe” into a duchess. The musical, which is based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, seethes with the vitriolic social critic’s rage, but it also features two of the sweetest love songs ever written -- “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “On the Street Where You Live” -- as well as one of the most understated: “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Bill English’s spirited ensemble makes songs immortalized by the 1964 film emphatically their own. Hafen, in particular, shows Eliza as self-possessed yet misunderstood by her world. When she sings “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely,” she’s wishing for much more than just “lots of chocolate for me to eat,” or, as she says it, “aite.”
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: July 31. Continues through Sept. 15, 2012

 
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