Why has Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady been staged locally three times in the last two and a half years? It’s not merely “a little bit of luck,” as one of the classic musical’s memorable songs goes. Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista (summer of 2014), Cygnet Theatre in Old Town (spring of 2015) and now Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido have all staged My Fair Lady because it’s as close to perfect as a Broadway show can be, over 60 years after it debuted with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews on the Great White Way. Beside its indelible tunes (among them “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “On the Street Where You Live”), it delivers witty dialogue, romantic shadings, and two timeless characters in Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.
The Welk’s production capitalizes on all of these built-in assets, even if its stage and its four-piece “orchestra” only adequately accommodate the sweep of this show. Lance Arthur Smith is a more likable than usual Higgins, which is fine, and Shaina Knox, though her Cockney accent wavers at the outset, beautifully renders Eliza’s signature numbers. The formidable Randall Hickman tends to shout-sing his Alfie Doolittle showstoppers (“With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time”), but like My Fair Lady in general, he can’t really go wrong.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat