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My Fair Lady Closes ’05 SMCLO Season: Opens Friday, July 15 at Barnum Hall

Santa Monica High School Theater Arts Department’s producing partner, the Santa Monica Civic Light Opera (SMCLO), has chosen a classic American musical, Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, as its summer production.

The big, splashy musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, will begin its abbreviated run on Friday, July 15, in the high school’s landmark theater, Barnum Hall.

My Fair Lady opened on Broadway in 1956 with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the leading roles and went on to win virtually all of the most prestigious theater awards. Audrey Hepburn starred with Harrison in the 1964 film version, which won a flock of Oscars.

As nearly everyone knows by now, My Fair Lady chronicles the efforts of Henry Higgins, professor of Phonetics and confirmed bachelor, to transform an untutored Cockney flower girl, Eliza Dootlittle, into a lady to win a wager with visiting colleague, Colonel Hugh Pickering. Higgins wins the wager, only to find that Eliza has had as profound effect on him as he has had on her.

This production, which follows last month’s production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, will close SMCLO’s 2004-05 theatre season. Artistic Director Dr. Frank Ford has assembled a cast of 24, which will be augmented by a 30-piece orchestra.

Ford said, “In a year of great plays and great productions, we have the special privilege of presenting the finest of them all — My Fair Lady — the grandest of the grand, the jewel of an altogether unforgettable year! With a spectacular set, a sensational orchestra, a brilliant cast, and our eyes on a triumphant finish to our season, this is the one to see!”

Brett Fisher, Samohi alumnus (’95), SMCLO producer and managing director, who doubles as the show’s conductor, said, “This is my favorite time of the season. This show culminates our students’ year-long learning experience, by giving them a unique opportunity to work alongside our theatre alums and guest professionals to further enhance their theatre experience — and for us to reconnect with those alums, who return to our stage to showcase their talents, once again.”

The cast features Samohi alum Kimberly Breault (’88) as Eliza. She recently completed a three-year run in the national company of Beauty and The Beast. Prior to that, she appeared with Sam Harris in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and in Mory Yeston’s Phantom. She also played Lily St. Regis”in SMCLO’s inaugural production of Annie in 1989.

Forest Erickson (’94) returns to the Barnum Hall stage as Professor Henry Higgins for the first time since his portrayal last summer of Billy Bibbit in SMCLO’s production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Also in the cast are alums Kat Green (’88), Omar Leyva (’95), Kelly Theile (’97), Noah Galuten (’01), Max Baumgarten (’03), Jonathan Aldana (’03), James Costello (’05), Caitie McNamara (’05), Nicole Fellows (’05), Samohi students Anthony Alvarez, Louisa Levy, Taylor Brinckerhoff, Michael Cox, Hannah Bernstein, Nick Leonard, Molly Strauss, Casey Corn, and guest professionals Jessica Bram, Nancy Holland, and Andrea Tobey as the distinguished Mrs. Higgins.

Arguably lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe’s most successful musical, the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady was directed by Moss Hart. George Cukor directed the motion picture. Among its more memorable songs are “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “The Rain in Spain,” “On The Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church On Time,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”

My Fair Lady will play seven times — July 14, 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23 in Barnum, the recently restored 1,200-seat Streamline Moderne icon.

It previews Thursday, July 14 at 8 p.m. and opens Friday, July 15 at 8 p.m. Additional performances are on Saturday, July 16 at 8 p.m., Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m, Friday, July 22 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-30 for reserved and premium-reserved seating, and $15 for the preview.

Tickets, including group discounts/fundraisers, are available by phone through the SMCLO production office at (310) 458-5939, or on the web at www.smclo.org. $10 rush tickets are available to the first 25 patrons, beginning one hour prior to curtain, cash only, one ticket per patron, sold five minutes before curtain at every show.

The Santa Monica Civic Light Opera, a sponsored educational activity of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, serves as a partner to Samohi’s Theatre Arts Program “to enhance the student experience through mentoring by alumni and theatre professionals and developing productions for the Humanities Center and Barnum Hall stages.

In February, SMCLO received two NAACP awards for Best Lighting and Best Sets, out of eight nominations for its production last summer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The other nominees included the Geffen Playhouse, the Theatre at Boston Court, Troika Entertainment, and the Mark Taper Forum/Center Theatre Group.Among its sponsors are presenting season sponsor Washington Mutual, and season sponsors Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and Gramercy Partners, Inc., Santa Monica Magazine and Santa Monica Business, Santa Monica Daily Press and Gelson’s.

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