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Pygmalion Opens at Everyman Theatre

May 23, 2011 04:18PM ● Published by Anonymous

In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature He also wrote five novels, short stories, and hundreds of theater reviews. But his most famous play, because it was made into a movie for which he won an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation, and later was made into a popular Broadway musical—is Pygmalion.

The title Pygmalion comes from the Greek myth that tells the story of a sculptor who has rejected the company of women, only to fall in love with a beautiful ivory statue of a woman he has created.  Venus takes pity on the sculptor and sends Cupid to breath life into the sculpture. The newly awakened being becomes Pygmalion’s wife.

Everyman Theatre, in their quest to select a diverse and challenging selection of plays for the Greater Baltimore metropolitan audience, like the Greek gods has breathed new life into this 1912 classic that became the basis for My Fair Lady.  Under the direction of Eleanor Holdridge, clever set pieces  seamlessly move on and off the stage from scene to scene to transform the theater from a wet rainy night on the streets of London, to the gentleman’s library of Henry Higgins, to the lavish Embassy Ball. Skillful use of music and lighting signal the shifts in mood of the characters, as they deal with their stations in society, as communicated by their demeanor, attire, and most importantly—language.

Whereas the sculptor Pygmalion in the Greek myth is striving to create the perfect woman in beauty and form by carving her out of lovely white ivory, Professor Henry Higgins, an expert on English accents and dialects has decided to turn a poor cockney flower vendor, Eliza Doolittle, into a gentile lady.  He makes a bet with Colonel Pickering that he will be able to pass her off as a member of the upper class. In the process, he transforms her into a confidant and assured woman, an equal to himself. But Edwardian society was not a time of equality between the sexes, which adds to the tensions between the teacher, student, their colleagues, and parents. It was also a time during which the clearly defined class structure of rich and poor was resistant to change.  Shaw an opponent of the exploitation of the working class, believed in the equality of man and woman. He utilized his writing talents to promote his views. As with many of his plays, Pygmalion is a witty comedy with dark undertones of satire.

Kyle Prue, one of the original company members of Everyman Theatre, returns to the stage of Everyman after a five-year hiatus, to play the role of Henry Higgins. He gives a fine performance admirably supported by Stan Weiman who plays his colleague Colonel Pickering.  As his foil, Jenna Sokoloski who plays Eliza Doolittle makes a humorous and believable transformation from an ignorant  and uncouth girl to a poised and insightful woman. With such a strong group of veteran actors it is hard to single out a particular performer for praise, but notable also is the fine performance of Lynn Steinmetz as Mrs, Pearse the housekeeper.

Daniel Ettinger is the scenic designer and did the lighting design in collaboration with Matthew Miller. Kathleen Geldard is the costume designer.  This production closes out the 20th anniversary season of Everyman Theatre.   Performances are offered Tuesday through Sunday through June 19th. Exciting plans are underway for next years 2011-2012 season, the last production season at the Charles Street theater before their move to a new and larger location on West Fayette Street. Visit their website: www.everymantheatre.org for ticket prices, show times and more information.

Photos by Stan Barouh

{gallery}Pygmalion{/gallery}

 

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