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The rain in Spain ... Drama troupe brings 'My Fair Lady' to Soldotna stage

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2009

"The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain."

Anyone not familiar with the theatrical context of this line may want to check out this weekend's presentation of "My Fair Lady" at the Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna

"It's going to be good," said director Joe Rizzo. "We open this Friday and ticket sales have already been brisk."

This musical, based upon George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," focuses on the relationship between Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins so that she can pass as a lady.

"The basic gist of the plot is the main character, Higgens, is an expert on language," Rizzo said. "Higgens makes a bet that within six months he can pass Eliza Doolittle off as royalty at an embassy ball."

Their relationship unfolds throughout the performance, and how they each change the other becomes noticeable, according to Rizzo. This comes to a culmination at the ball, when Dolittle realizes her independence, and Higgens realizes his feelings for her.

The principle roles of Doolittle and Higgens are played by Lily Arnett and Cole Aaronson, but the performance also includes Shaylee Rizzo, Madison Cunningham, Rachel Mackie, Ben Carstens, Dalton Lohrke, Iisha Oftedal, Nicole Reid and Grey Hansen.

The performers are members of the "Class Act Drama Troupe," which holds annual auditions to select 10 kids, who then put on three to four shows a year. The money they raise from their presentations goes toward a scholarship program for the kids in the troupe.

"All the kids are very dedicated," Rizzo said. "Putting on 'My Fair Lady' with only 10 kids, they all have to play a lot of roles, but they've done a great job since day one. It's been eight weeks of practicing and I still catch them singing the songs while they're putting everything away."

Rizzo said Arnett is one of the primary reasons he decided to put on this musical.

"I got a script and had them read a few lines and Lily really pulled it off," he said. "She's actually not in high school yet, but she has a tremendous signing voice. She's phenomenal."

Rizzo said her co-lead was equally talented.

"Cole's doing a great job as Higgens," he said. "He has a tremendous amount of lines to memorize. And, the role requires a tremendous sense of rhythm and Cole has that."

Rizzo said much time and effort also has gone into making the performance seem as accurate to the era and geographical setting as possible.

"Cole's dad is a woodworker and he created all the wood moulding and paneling for a traditional British drawing room," he said. "The set is fabulous -- probably one of the best we've ever had on that stage."

The performance also requires numerous and fairly elaborate costumes, and Rizzo said he got a little family help to put them all together.

"My mom took on costumes, which for this show is huge," he said. "Eliza alone changes clothes four to five times through the two-hour play."

Rizzo said he expects a good turnout for the performance.

"Everyone is familiar with 'My Fair Lady' and I don't think anyone here has ever done it before," he said, "at least not in recent memory."

The musical will be at the Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna, at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and on Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are $10 advance purchase (24 hours before the show) or $12 the day of the show. For more information, visit the Triumvirate's Web site at www.triumviratetheatre.org.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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