I was in New York last week. There is theater everywhere and I’d been invited by my friends at The Kennedy Center to attend the Friday night performance of Pygmalion at the American Airlines Theater. In my busy round of meetings on Friday I had the occasion to mention my evening schedule several times and each person had a different “review” to give me of what I was going to see! It certainly was a verbal rendition of mixed reviews and the people I was meeting with were very definitely knowledgeable theater people. It was disconcerting because there were so many great shows I wanted to see that I didn’t want to spend an evening at a show that wasn’t “worthy.” All of a sudden I realized that I was prejudging a performance that if nothing else had the opportunity to entertain with its droll wit. Surely this rendition of Shaw’s play would be a verbal tour de force if nothing else. And, without a doubt, it would beat an evening of predictable television formatting.
As always live theater didn’t let me down. The Roundabout Theater Company, the producing company, has really found a niche on Broadway with its limited runs of revival productions. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening of Pygmalion and from their reactions so apparently did the rest of the audience. Claire Danes is not the Liza Doolittle of My Fair Lady but again I don’t believe Shaw wrote her that way. Ms. Danes appears to still be getting her Broadway sea legs, which I have no doubt will strengthen with each performance. She is surrounded by a strong Tony Award winning cast such as Jefferson Mays as Henry Higgins and Boyd Gaines as Colonel Pickering, Tony nominee Helen Carey as Mrs. Higgins and a wonderful caring Mrs. Pearce played by Brenda Wehle. The costumes are elegant and the set is wonderfully designed (Jonathan Fensom). Director David Grindley who received the Tony Award for Best Revival of Journey’s End in 2007 gave me a lovely night at the theater with no mixed emotions!