My Fair Lady set for Arena Stage

Sep 12, 2012
My Fair Lady

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announced the full company for My Fair Lady, directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith, whose recent The Music Man was hailed as an "all-American pleasure-machine" (Washington Post). Her fresh reinterpretation of My Fair Lady broke box office records at the prestigious Shaw Festival in Canada last summer. Smith has reassembled most of the design team from that acclaimed production along with noted Canadian actor and Shaw company member Benedict Campbell as Professor Henry Higgins to join Arena favorite Nicholas Rodriguez (Oklahoma!) as Freddy Eynsford-Hill and Manna Nichols as Eliza Doolittle in her Arena Stage debut. The production also features local husband/wife duo Thomas Adrian Simpson as Colonel Pickering and Sherri L. Edelen as Mrs. Pearce, as well as Catherine Flye as Mrs. Higgins, Benjamin L. Horen as Zoltan Karpathy and James Saito as Alfred Doolittle.

Based on Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, My Fair Lady includes book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. My Fair Lady runs November 2, 2012-January 6, 2013 in the Fichandler Stage.

"It is a real joy to work on this giant of a musical at Arena with its story about class and the rigid social structures which challenge us," shares Smith. "Introducing the brilliant Ben Campbell to our audience and this wonderful company of actors is a particular pleasure."

She continues, "Higgins and Eliza embark on a journey as treacherous and dangerous as anyone can ever take-the transformation of human beings through the mind and heart. It is a universal journey, and our stage world reflects London in 1912 with a dynamic mix of races and types-vibrant and cross cultural."

Additional cast members of My Fair Lady include D.C.-natives Rayanne Gonzales as Mrs. Eynsford-Hill and Kurt Boehm as Jamie, with Ronald Duncan as Harry. The ensemble also includes Bev Appleton, Lucia Daisog, Dean Andre de Luna, Erin Driscoll, Jennifer Irons, Adam Jepsen, Robert Mintz, Jesse Palmer, Jobari Parker-Namdar, Joe Peck, Sade Simmons, Kim Willes and Hannah Willman, with swings Jessica Hartman and Victor J. Wisehart.

Director Molly Smith reunites with her original Shaw Festival creative team members Choreographer Daniel Pelzig, Musical Director Paul Sportelli, Costume Designer Judith Bowden and Lighting Designer Jock Munro. The Creative Team for My Fair Lady also features Set Designer Donald Eastman, Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Dialect Coach Kim James Bey, Assistant Choreographer Melanie Phillipson, Assistant Music Director Jose C. Simbulan, Artistic Associate and Casting Director Daniel Pruksarnukul, Dramaturg Amrita Ramanan, Stage Manager Susan R. White, Assistant Stage Manager Christi B. Spann and Artistic Producer David Snider, with New York casting by Stuart Howard & Paul Hardt.

Molly Smith (Director) has been instrumental in leading the reinvention of Arena Stage, focusing on the creation of the new Mead Center for American Theater as well as major artistic changes. Arena Stage is a center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Molly has been a leader in new play development for 30 years while at Arena Stage and at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska, the theater she founded and led for 19 years. She has commissioned or championed numerous world premieres, some of which she has directed, including Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive and Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play. Molly's directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre and Centaur Theatre.

Benedict Campbell (Henry Higgins) From 1991 to 2001, Campbell performed with the Stratford Festival, most recently in Dracula, The Three Musketeers and Tempest-Tost. He has also performed at Canadian Stage (A Little Night Music, among others), Factory Theatre (Love and Anger) and at the Grand Theatre, London (Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), among others). For the past 10 years, he has acted in the Shaw Festival, appearing as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady and as Boss Mangan in Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. He has also performed the roles of Lopakhin in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and Broadbent in Bernard Shaw's John Bull's Other Island. His other Shaw credits include The Entertainer, In Good King Charles's Golden Days, An Inspector Calls, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Mack and Mabel, Hotel Peccadillo, The Crucible, Too True To Be Good, Happy End, Major Barbara, Man and Superman, Nothing Sacred and The Plough and the Stars.

Sherri L. Edelen (Mrs. Pearce, Queen of Transylvania) Arena Stage: Cabaret. DC area: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Xanadu, Hairspray, and Helen Hayes Awards for Side Show and Les Miserables (Signature Theatre); Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center/Sondheim Celebration); Design for Living (Shakespeare Theatre); She Loves Me (Olney); The World Goes 'Round (Round House). Regional: The Light in the Piazza (Philadelphia Theatre Co, Barrymore Award), Annie Get Your Gun (Stages St. Louis) and Caroline or Change (Arden Theatre Company).

Catherine Flye (Mrs. Higgins) Arena Stage: George Don't Do That!, Shirley Valentine. DC area: Henry V, The Comedy of Errors (Folger Theatre); Design for Living, Major Barbara (Shakespeare Theatre); Shakespeare's Will, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (MetroStage); Moonlight, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Studio Theatre); Pride and Prejudice, Wintertime (Round House); also Ford's Theatre, Washington Stage Guild, Olney, the Kennedy Center.

Benjamin L. Horen (Zoltan Karpathy) DC area: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Signature Theatre); The Boys From Syracuse, Cymbeline (Shakespeare Theatre); Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Jerry Springer: The Opera (Studio Theatre Second Stage); Cool Papa's Party, The Stephen Schwartz Project (MetroStage); Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible... (Adventure Theatre). Spotlight Communications: Gay: Accept ME If You Love Me.

Manna Nichols (Eliza Doolittle) DC area: starred as the title role in Mulan at Imagination Stage. NYC/Off-Broadway: Laurie in Oklahoma! at the Acorn Theatre, Tokio Confidential at Atlantic Theatre Co. Regional: Barrymore Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for The King & I at Walnut Street Theatre; The King and I at North Shore and Theatre for the Stars; Miss Saigon at Walnut Street Theatre and The Fulton Theatre.

Nicholas Rodriguez (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) returns to Arena Stage after last appearing as Curly in Oklahoma! and Fabrizio Nacarelli in The Light in the Piazza. On Broadway, he performed the title role in Tarzan, and Off-Broadway, he's appeared in The Toxic Avenger, Almost Heaven and Bajour. He's toured in Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus), Evita (Che) and Hair (Claude). His regional credits include originating the role of Aaron and understudying Val Kilmer's Moses in The Ten Commandments at Kodak Theater, JCS (Jesus), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), Damn Yankees (Joe), Cinderella (Prince), South Pacific (Cable), Master Class (Tony), Love, Valour, Compassion! (Ramon) and The King and I (Lun Tha). This past summer, he was seen in the film Sex and the City 2 and was featured on the film's soundtrack. Mr. Rodriguez is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Nick Chavez on ABC's One Life to Live.

James Saito (Alfred Doolittle) Broadway/National Tour: Flower Drum Song, Golden Child, The King & I. Film/TV: Eli Stone, I Think I Love My Wife, Pearl Harbor, The Thomas Crown Affair, Henry Fool, Robot Stories, Home Alone 3, Devil's Advocate, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Third Watch, Sex and the City, Star Trek Voyager, 100 Centre St., Blood and Orchids and BBC's Heroes and Villains: The Shogun.

Thomas Adrian Simpson (Col. Pickering) Arena Stage: The Light in the Piazza, The Fantasticks, The Great White Hope, Seagull, Antigone in New York and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. DC area: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Boy Detective Fails (Signature Theatre); 1776, Liberty Smith (Ford's Theater); Candide, The Boys From Syracuse (Shakespeare Theatre). Regional: Candide (Goodman); Shenandoah, Man of La Mancha (Wayside Theatre).