The San Benito Stage Company will make history with its run of “My Fair Lady” starting Friday.
The company has never performed the classic musical, and it will be the final show at the Granada Theatre for many of the regular players.
When a stage company committee last year was choosing shows for this season, there had been an emphasis on lesser-known shows, said Derek Barnes, director of “My Fair Lady” and vice president of the stage company nonprofit organization. But that left a void without a known show in the schedule. “My Fair Lady” was a natural choice because the group had never performed it.
“It’s kind of neat because when we picked it, it hadn’t gone back to Broadway yet,” Barnes said in an interview with San Benito Live.
The stage company got the rights shortly before its Broadway revival was announced.
“We didn’t have to pay the huge amount of royalties,” Barnes said.
It also now provides local theater fans an opportunity to see something that’s on Broadway, but close to home. It’s just one of the reasons locals should consider coming out to the show running today through July 28 at the Granada Theatre, 336 Fifth St.
“If people are looking for a show that’s on Broadway or a show they’ve wanted to see, they have the opportunity now,” Barnes said.
There will be a sentimental factor as well in this run because it’s the last adult stage company show scheduled for the Granada and the second-last show overall. There’s a teen performance of the musical “13” later this year to round out the 2018 season for San Benito Stage Company.
With renovations scheduled at the Granada, the San Benito Stage Company will no longer use the facility and will instead become a mobile theater group starting in 2019.
“This will be our last actual summer show at the Granada,” Barnes said. “We’re not going to have the Granada after Jan. 1.”
With Granada owner Andrew Barragan looking to make interior improvements to the historic theater, it wasn’t logistically possible to hold shows there in 2019.
Being a mobile theater isn’t completely new for the stage company, though, as the group performed at varying locations for several years before moving into the Granada.
Barnes said the stage company has secured the Veterans Memorial Building for a few shows, San Benito High School for some and Sacred Heart as well.
“We’ve done our diligence as a board on our end,” he said.
Barnes said the nonprofit has had about a year to play for the transition.
“We’re very appreciative of the three venues,” he said.
Barnes also said it’s going to be “interesting” to work with the new settings with advantages and disadvantages at each.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “I think it will be something that will be a little exciting.”
The sentimentality that comes with the change, meanwhile, is one of the reasons San Benito Stage Company brought back an orchestra for this final summer show as opposed to playing track music.
“We’ve been calling it a beast,” he said. “We wanted to go out with a bang here.”
The show includes 28 cast members (see the list attached) and eight or nine technical crew members, he said. Co-directors are Kayla Murphy on vocals and Stephanie Hicks on choreography. Producers are Anne Hall, Suzanne Proctor and Mary Chase.
As for the group’s interpretation of the musical based on George Bernard Show’s “Pygmalion,” Barnes said they tried to stay true to the original intent of the script. He said there are some “old school” sexist tones because the male lead Henry Higgins is somewhat chauvinistic, but they try to portray the female lead character Eliza Doolittle as someone who won’t put up with it.
Julie Andrews played Dolittle in the Broadway original, and Audrey Hepburn played her in the 1964 film.
“So you get the elements of feminism in there that are important,” said Barnes, adding how it’s important in these times with equality under the microscope.
Barnes had directed five other shows for the stage company before this one, and said “My Fair Lady” is the most challenging.
“We have some very veteran actors in our show; then we also have a combination of first time on stage,” he said. “That throws a dynamic in there that you’re not prepared for.”
According to the stage company’s description of the show:
When Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady opened on Broadway, it collected six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, while the film version took home eight Oscars, including Best Picture. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady is that rare musical by which all others are measured. The tale of a cockney flower girl transformed into an elegant lady features one of musical theatre’s greatest scores, including: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
- Friday, July 13 at 7 PM
- Saturday, July 14 at 7 PM
- Sunday, July 15 at 2 PM
- Friday, July 20 at 7 PM
- Saturday, July 21 at 7 PM
- Sunday, July 22 at 2 PM
- Friday, July 27 at 7 PM
- Saturday, July 28 at 7 PM