In 1956, the Broadway production of My Fair Lady became the longest running musical theatre production in history. And since then, the musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, has seen a film adaptation and many enthralling theatre revivals across the globe. In Bangalore, city-based theatre group Antardwand had staged two productions in 2012 and 2013. Now, before moving on to their adaptation of Mughal-e-Azam, they will be staging the perfect musical one last time. “My Fair Lady is a treat for fans of old British classics. It appeals to everyone, young and old alike because it brings together music, theatre and dance. This year, Pygmalion completes 100 years and this is our way of celebrating the great play,” states Priyanka, the founder of Antardwand, whose past productions include adaptations of popular classics like Tagore’s Chokher Bali and Sir Arthurs.
My Fair Lady revolves around a cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, played by Priyanka. She has had to live the hard life and has never experienced luxury. Then comes a phonetic expert, the snobbish Professor Higgins (Shishank Gupta). He studies her for a few days and disgusted by her ghastly accent, offers to give her speech lessons so that she can be more ‘ladylike’. Eliza, who has a dream of working in a florist shop instead of on the streets, agrees to the wager. It is this comical transformation of Eliza that forms the crux, and also underlines the class separation that existed in Britain in the 1940s, says Priyanka. The other cast members include Salmin Sheriff as Colonel Pickering, Higgins’s friend and a phonetician; Apachu Poovaiah as Alfred, Eliza’s father and Akshay Datta as Freddy, Eliza’s suitor.
Talking about the response the play had received earlier, Priyanka observes, “It was simply superb. The audience did not expect us to put up a show like the Broadway version. But when they saw the play, they were amazed. We had put in a lot of effort into the costumes, the set up, the mannerisms to keep the essence intact. Even the songs were performed live.” This year too, the audience can expect “an authentic portrayal of 40s Britain from costumes and backdrops to accents, providing a true Broadway experience,” according to Priyanka.
Published on July 16, 2014 in The New Indian Express.