Think of My Fair Lady as Extreme Makeover Edwardian-style. The musical now playing at the Cleveland Play House tonight tells the story of Eliza Doolittle and her collision with cranky professor Henry Higgins and his world of vowels, consonants, and high-society manners. He vows to turn the Cockney guttersnipe into a classy gal by putting her through such rigorous exercises as repeating the alphabet a hundred times a day. "It's about connection and transformation," says director Amanda Dehnert.
The 1964 movie version starring Audrey Hepburn put My Fair Lady on the pop-culture map, but Dehnert mixes things up a bit in her production. For example, chorus members change their costumes onstage. "We want people to experience the magic," she says. But the play isn't about the process of turning Eliza into a lady, says Dehnert; it's about what happens after she becomes one. "She starts this life thinking there is something wrong with her," she says. "Once she [changes], she's still unsettled until she learns to believe in herself."
Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 7. Continues through Oct. 29