38th Annual Winter Musical “My Fair Lady” Transports Audiences “Across the Pond”

From the hubbub of a tenement on Tottenham Court Road to the genteel chatter of the Ascot Races—Edwardian London was recreated on the Johnson Theater stage for My Fair Lady, Norfolk Academy’s 38th annual Winter Musical.

The production involved nearly 100 students in grades 7-12, including students who worked on the costumes, sets, lights, and sound; two students also played in the pit orchestra. The performance featured 10 seniors, including Solomon Duane ’19 in the lead role of Professor Henry Higgins, a first-time performer in the school musical. A veteran of seven school musicals, Patrick McElroy ’19, was in the show-stopper role of Alfred P. Doolittle—a character whose delight in in being a rogue is expounded upon in two numbers featuring catchy tunes and high-stepping dances, “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.” McElroy appeared in the school’s 2012 musical, Oliver, as the eponymous waif, when he was in fifth grade.

Eliza Doolittle, the female lead, was double-cast: Laura Read ’20 was in the role on Friday’s opening night and Saturday matinee, and Sabrina Sterns ’21 was in the Sunday matinee. They shared the role during the preview run as well.

Nine adults coached students in the creation of the show, led by Caroline Bisi, director of the musical and drama teacher in the Middle School. Dance Master Elbert Watson did the show’s choreography, and Dean Englert was the musical director and conductor of the pit orchestra. Rob Fleenor was the sound designer.
My Fair Lady, the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, was a critical and popular hit on Broadway in 1956; it featured Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins. The 1964 film version had Audrey Hepburn in the role that had won Andrews many accolades on Broadway; Hepburn’s songs were partially or completely dubbed by Marni Nixon.  The film won eight Academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Rex Harrison.