Transforming a poor flower girl into a princess would be a rare feat. But so is captivating an audience with musical theater, and the Santa Rosa Junior College’s Theatre Arts Department gets a standing ovation for its fantastic production of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.”
This is a five-star show for those who delight in good community theater. It ranks up there with the excellent productions that the college has put on for decades with its Summer Repertory Theatre, which brings in top college talent from around the nation. Such an accomplishment may sound improbable from a local cast, but seeing is believing.
The show shines bright because of its strong leading players, including Erin Ashe as Eliza Doolittle, the young flower seller who on a bet is taken in and taught to speak as an aristocrat, that is “proper” English (“in America, they haven’t used it for years.”) For this Broadway classic to work, Eliza must sing with grace and power, from the starry-eyed “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “I Could Have Danced All Night” to the full-throated proclamation that “I can stand on my own without you.” Ashe pulls it all off with style.
Equally strong is Trevor Hoffmann, who is the picture of insufferable self-assurance and manipulation as phonetics professor Henry Higgins. Some women may want to throttle him, which is a compliment.
Also strong are Richard La Rosa, Dominic Williams, Shirley Nilsen Hall, and especially Norman A. Hall as the comically conniving Alfred P. Doolittle.
Peter Crompton’s set, with its towering London backdrop, magically transports us into the story’s many scenes. The cast members repeatedly and smoothly swing the major set pieces around and back to create more than a half-dozen different looks.
The band, the costumes, the crew and the rest of the cast all help this story soar.
The show continues with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday and again Dec. 8, 9 and 10. There also are 2 p.m. matinees Sunday and Dec. 10. Tickets are $18 for general admission, $12 for seniors and students, and $10 children 12 and under.
For more information, go to http://www.santarosa.edu/theatrearts/.