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NME After Print: I Could Have Danced All Night - My Fair Lady at Popejoy Hall

Anette Barrios-Torres as Eliza Doolittle and Jackson Hurt in the National Tour of MY FAIR LADY. Photo by Joan Marcus 2023
Anette Barrios-Torres (Eliza Doolittle) and Jackson - MY FAIR LADY National Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus 2023

As a Popejoy season subscriber, I see a lot of shows. LOTS of Broadway and Broadway-style musicals in particular. I enjoy contemporary, newer-fangled productions (Wicked, anyone?). But, there is a charm to the O.G. show, and My Fair Lady is no exception. It had my attention from the moment I stepped into the auditorium. With the beautiful watercolor style backdrop featuring the circa 1912 London cityscape.

At its core, My Fair Lady is a rags-to-riches story. A familiar trope wherein a makeover changes the protagonist's station in life, from the classic Cinderella to Trading Places to She's All That.

The other theme - the struggle between the haves vs. the have-nots and the desire to have a better life for oneself, is similarly timeless. Both sides - are burdened in different ways. But the main difference is not in who they are but in how others treat them. Belying that morality is only for the privileged and that the lower classes "can't afford it" or that possessing wealth somehow imposes greater morality.

The fiery Eliza Doolittle, artfully played by actress Anette Barrios-Torres, is making her national tour debut. Her previous credits include regional productions of the Sound of Music (Maria), Carousel (Carrie), and Grease (Jan). Anette's voice is typically Broadway-style impressive, but what stands out is her ability to morph from a thick Cockney accent to the Genteel. These accents even noticeably changed within her singing. She even changes her posture as she gains greater confidence, and the world around her (except for Henry Higgins) changes how she's treated.

The adversarial and pedantic professor, Henry Higgins, is played by Jonathan Grunert for a second year in a row. His favorite previous credits include Murder on the Orient Express (Arbuthnot), Shakespeare in Love (Wessex), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon), Romeo & Juliet (Mercutio), and Evil Dead: The Musical (Ash). Jonathan skillfully plays the egotist who treats everybody below him while belting out the songs in high style.

And I have to note that Eliza's grifting deadbeat of a dad, Alfred P. Doolittle, played by Michael Hegarty, is so charismatically amusing and infuriating that he almost steals the show with his few scenes. Get Me to the Church on Time, with its bawdy humor, can-can dancers, and performers in drag, is the most fun musical number of the production.

The costumes are stunning and numerous. There might have been more costume changes in this production than in any other I've seen before. Beautifully detailed, the Edwardian-styled costumes bring the audience into the setting - from Eliza's iconic flower girl hat to the beautiful muted-toned finery at the horse races to the elaborate dresses at the Embassy Ball.

Speaking of settings - the sets are also pretty numerous for a stage production. They cleverly leverage both moveable facades and screen projections to maximize their ability to use unique sets. Like the costumes, all are beautifully detailed.

With a run time of nearly 3 hours, including a 15-minute intermission, it's one of the longest shows I've been to. It would have been easy to get bored or restless, but all it did - was make me extra hungry for our traditional post-show Frontier roll!

My Fair Lady runs from March 21st-24th, 2024 at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. Tickets can be purchased at

CJ Jury-Kiser has lived in 5 states, on both coasts, and found a home and community in New Mexico. She’s a wife, a mother, a writer, an anthropologist, an artist, and an ass-kicker - not necessarily in that order.


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