Reagle is accustomed to Pfisterer’s face

WALTHAM — Broadway actress Sarah Pfisterer has become closely identified with the Reagle Music Theatre, shining in a long succession of roles over the past decade.
Think David Coffee and George Dvorsky at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, or Will LeBow, Tom Derrah, Karen McDonald and Remo Airaldi when they were the heart of the American Repertory Theatre.
Pfisterer is reprising her role as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl transformed into a lady, in “My Fair Lady” at the Reagle through Sunday, Aug. 19. Pfisterer first played the role at the Reagle nine years ago. Actors and actresses routinely play characters much older or younger — that’s why they call it acting.
And it still works here, most of the time. It’s just now that her scenes with, say, Robert St. Laurence as the young suitor Freddie Eynsford-Hill hint at more of a May-December type of relationship than that of two contemporaries.
Pfisterer still hasn’t met a show tune she couldn’t sing, and she still does both the role and the lush Lerner-Loewe score justice, as does the music direction by Don Rodriguez and the orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Leonard.
As Henry Higgins, Pfisterer’s equally-talented husband, Rick Hilsabeck, a skilled singer, dancer and actor, has to scale back his formidable voice to the “speak singing” style required by the role, but he is spot-on in his portrayal of the professor and language expert whose exterior begins to crack as he “grows accustomed to her face.”
His early, unfeeling arrogance towards Eliza is nicely balanced by the warmth of R. Michael Wresinski as Col. Hugh Pickering and Higgins’ household staff, led by Beth Gotha as the exasperated Mrs. Pearce. Donna Sorbello’s Mrs. Higgins provides both comic relief and a solicitous shoulder for Eliza.
Longtime Reagle favorite Harold “Jerry” Walker is in his element as the incorrigible Alfred P. Doolittle; there is a lot of Walker in Doolittle and vice versa and he brings the requisite energy to the show-stopping numbers “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get me to the Church on Time” and also shines in his scenes with Hilsabeck as the two “negotiate” Eliza’s future.
The Ascot racing scene is also cleverly staged in the “Ascot Gavotte” number.

             Harold “Jerry” Walker as Alfred Doolittle and Rick Hilsabeck as Henry Higgins
                                in Reagle Music Theatre’s “My Fair Lady.”
The Reagle still does what the Reagle does well. Large casts, Broadway-quality costumes, the kind of spectacle you rarely see on an All-Equity stage because of the costs, and highly-skilled production numbers featuring the kind of dancing that you would never think you might see from a dance troupe of almost all amateurs.
It’s a tribute both to the actors’ love of theater and the talents of director Larry Sousa and choreographer Rachel Bertone, reproducing the original choreography, and their ability to wring the very best effort out of their hard-working troops.
Pfisterer, who along with husband Hilsabeck has recently opened a performing arts school in Connecticut, probably won’t be playing Eliza in Waltham again. But she has left some warm memories behind.
“My Fair Lady,” through Aug. 19 at the Reagle Music Theatre at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham. Tickets http://www.reaglemusictheatre.com or by calling 781 891 5600.

 

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