A 'Loverly' evening

Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater to present "My Fair Lady"

Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater to present "My Fair Lady"

January 15, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

Since she was 6 years old, Kelly Kugler of Hagerstown knew she wanted to play Eliza Doolittle.

This weekend, when house lights dim at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater, Kugler will have that wish fulfilled. Kugler stars as the Cockney flower girl who turns into a Queen's English-speaking member of British high society in "My Fair Lady."

The show opens Friday, Jan. 16, and runs through Saturday, March 7.

Terry Moore of Smithsburg is cast as Henry Higgins, a phonetics professor. Higgins sees Eliza as a social experiment to make her learn how to roll her r's and lose her accent. Moore does double duty; he's also the musical's director.

Moore says he approaches "My Fair Lady" first as a director. When he was younger, Moore says he often took on being both a lead and director. He says it can be "taxing" to take on both hats, but makes a point to put the rest of the cast first.


As for Professor Henry Higgins, Moore says he sees him "as both charming and villainous." He says Higgins is a combination of Daniel Craig's James Bond and Hugh Laurie's Dr. Gregory House.

Moore says that's one reason he enjoys performing "A Hymn to Him," because Higgins can't seem to understand women.

As Eliza, Kugler is the one Higgins can't seem to understand. She says Eliza is a strong female character, calling her "brazen and sassy."

What Kugler likes about playing Eliza is that she's not the damsel in distress. "And she's never villainized," Kugler says.

Even in the beginning, she says, Eliza knows what she wants. One of Kugler's favorite songs is "Wouldn't it Be Loverly." In it, Eliza sings in her thick Cockney accent about what she wants from life: "Someone's 'ead restin' on my knee, warm an' tender as 'e can be. 'Oo takes good care of me. Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?"

In the end, Kugler says, Eliza becomes the person she wants to be. She says her character reaches the point where she is a changed person, but Eliza reaches it in a way she never expected.

It is the relationship between Eliza and the professor that is at the core of "My Fair Lady." Although there's a lot of friction between the couple in the beginning, underneath, it becomes more.

"They can't stand to be without each other," Kugler says.

Moore calls "My Fair Lady," with a script by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, an American classic.

"It's timeless in a variety of ways. It points out very clearly distinction of class society that existed at the time in Great Britain in the early 19th to 20th century," he says. "I believe many of those class indictors that were there then still exist today."

He says its message of class continues to be relevant to theatergoers.

"I believe that the theater is a reflection of its society," Moore says. "People are touched by theater because they see something poignant in it that relates to something they see or experience in life."

If you go ...

WHAT: "My Fair Lady"

WHEN: Friday, Jan. 16, through Saturday, March 7; doors open at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays

WHERE: Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater, downtown Hagerstown

COST: $18.50 to $35, includes dinner and show

CONTACT: Call 301-739-7469 or go to

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