Kansas Summer Theatre to stage 'My Fair Lady'

LAWRENCE — Kansas Summer Theatre at the University of Kansas is staging the popular Broadway musical "My Fair Lady" July 12-22 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. July 12-14 and 19-21, and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays, July 15 and 22.

Adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion," "My Fair Lady" features book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The KST production is directed and choreographed by John Staniunas, associate professor of theatre, with musical direction by Ryan McCall, University Theatre staff accompanist. Scenic and lighting design is by Mark Reaney, professor of theatre; costume design is by Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre, and dialect design is by Paul Meier, professor of theatre.

In 1952, lyricist Lerner was first approached to adapt "Pygmalion" into a musical. Lerner and composer Loewe worked on the project for six months before abandoning it as an impossible task. In 1954, Lerner started thinking about the story again and, with renewed vigor, the duo transformed the material into a charming musical that critics and audiences adored. "My Fair Lady" opened on Broadway in March 1956, with Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, Julie Andrews as Eliza and Stanley Holloway as Alfred P. Doolittle. The musical ran for an unprecedented 2,717 performances, earning it the distinction of being the longest running musical at that time.

The KU production has a 10-member cast and five-piece orchestra, under the baton of conductor McCall.

Staniunas said the summer musical is being billed as a "jewel box" production.

"Our production of 'My Fair Lady' takes advantage of a unique jewel box concept that brings new energy and focus to this classic American musical," he explained. "The 'jewel box' is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Crux described as a casket of variously colored precious stones."

He said the bright young stars assembled in the KST ensemble are able to shine more brightly through the portrayal of multiple roles surrounding Eliza Doolittle’s transformation from flower girl to elegant lady.

"This actor-centered focus enables Shaw’s meditations on class distinctions, societal prejudices and gender inequality to be rendered even more clearly as the same actor embodies the aristocracy at Ascot in one moment followed by a maid or dustman in the next scene," he said.    

Reserved seat tickets for "My Fair Lady" are on sale in the University Theatre Ticket Office, 864-3982, and online at kutheatre.com. Public tickets are $15, tickets for all students are $10, and senior citizen and KU faculty and staff tickets are $14. A Family Package with tickets for two adults and two children is available for $40. All major credit cards are accepted for phone and online orders.

Members of the cast for the KST production include (listed by name, class, major, parents’ names, high school, and role):
From Fairway
Joe Winans, graduate student, opera performance major, Leavenworth High School, Henry Higgins.   
From Leawood
Sara J. Blakesley, graduate student, music major, daughter of Scott and Joyce Blakesley, Blue Valley North High School, Mrs. Hopkins, Flower Girl, Lady Boxington, Servant and Parlor Maid.
From Olathe
Alex Goering, senior, voice performance major, son of Dr. and Mrs. Barton Goering, Spring Hill High School, Jamie, Hoxton, Servant and Lord Boxington.
From Shawnee
Andrew Shaw, junior, music education major, son of Pam and Greg Shaw, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Harry, Sensey, Servant and Charles.
From Topeka
Sara Kennedy, junior, theatre major, daughter of Sara Kennedy, Washburn Rural High School, Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Eynsford Hill.
From Hagerstown
Ed Schubel, senior, theatre/voice major, son of Nettie and Scott Schubel, Williamsport High School, Freddy Eynsford Hill, Butler and Costemonger.
From Haddon Heights
Stephen Dagrosa, graduate student, voice major, son of Stephen Dagrosa, Carnegie Mellon University, Colonel Pickering.
From Broken Arrow
Ashley Benes, graduate student, opera performance major, daughter of Mark and Mary Benes, Broken Arrow High School, Mrs. Higgins, Servant and Flower Girl.
From Wexford
Julia Geisler, graduate student, opera performance major, daughter of Lloyd and Robin Geisler, Eliza Doolittle.
From Morgantown
Joseph Carr, senior, theatre/voice major, son of Tim and Margaret Carr, Free State High School, Alfred P. Doolittle, Policeman and Servant.