The eternal story of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and the resolute Professor Henry Higgins takes to the Festival Theatre stage in May. Featuring Patrick McManus as Higgins and Harveen Sandhu as our modern day Eliza, with the boundlessly creative Peter Hinton (Lady Windermere’s Fan, Cabaret) directing, you won’t want to miss out. And to draw you in further, Peter Hinton chatted with us about the modern twist he intends for Shaw’s masterpiece.
What are your thoughts on Pygmalion as you prepare to direct it this season?
I really fell in love with the play. And I think it is one of Shaw’s masterpieces. It is right up there with St. Joan, Heartbreak House and Man and Superman. And Pygmalion is equally as ambitious with its ideas but unlike Shaw’s great dramas, Pygmalion is a romantic comedy. It’s about class, gender, it’s about the great divide, and it’s about the 1%. When Pygmalion premiered it was an explosive and dynamic time where tensions between classes were high. The dying aristocratic class, the emerging classes, the women’s movement … Shaw wrote a very populist romantic comedy with big ideas in a very political time. Can you turn a street kid into a duchess? People were fearful in 1914 at the success of Pygmalion in that the West End theatres would be filled with flower girls and dustmen. Pygmalion really is a sublime achievement of all of Shaw’s skills.
“I want a bit of amusement, ’cause I’m a thinking man.
I want cheerfulness and a song when I feel low.”
Your production of Lady Windermere’s Fan was notable for many reasons, one being the unique music choices. Can we expect something similar for Pygmalion?
Music is the way we measure our own time. When you hear the Beatles you are automatically taken to the 60s. I always think we feel music first then intellectualize it later. For Pygmalion I’m using a combination of music from the period and now. I always think it’s fun to be in a classic play but recognize current music.
"And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl."
Can you talk a bit about how the set will influence the audience’s perspective and encourage the modern vision of the play?
It is a very architectural set designed by the very exciting designer Eo Sharp in her Shaw debut. Basically, it will be like looking through the windows of Higgins’ world – hanging windows that track and move, lots of video and projections of recognizable London landmarks. Every surface is reflective and transformative – like Eliza – shaped and changed throughout the play. Which brings to mind something else. It is said that My Fair Lady is more about Eliza and her transformation whereas Pygmalion is more about the evolution of Henry Higgins.
The transformations begin May 31. Do you have your tickets?
Rehearsals are always intriguing to those
who aren’t in them. So take a moment to enjoy
our short video that takes you behind the scenes
of Sweet Charity plus insights from Director
The Shaw Festival Guild is hosting its 10th Annual Garden Tour this June. Come and admire eight spectacular secret gardens in Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake. You will see magnificent English perennial gardens, exquisite garden statuary, 100 year old trees, formal sculptured beds, beautiful arbours, and magnificently designed iron gates plus other garden delights.
Tickets are $25 and available online or by calling the Shaw Festival Box Office at 1.800.511.7429.
Electric Charging Stations
Electric charging stations for vehicles have been installed at certain locations throughout Niagara-on-the-Lake such as White Oaks Resort & Spa and the Hilton Garden Inn. Niagara's Finest Hotels is the latest hotel operator to add the charging machines to each of their properties. For more info
Last chance to buy the Season’s Pass
Don’t forget to take advantage of our best deal. Enjoy your favourite productions repeatedly! Buy by April 30. From $340 (Blue seating). 1.800.511.7429
The Dumb Waiter
Featuring William Vickers & Colin Bruce Anthes
Presented by Stolen Theatre Collective, St Catharines
April 10-19 / Tickets $20
Congratulations to Dorothy B from Niagara-on-the-Lake who has won this month’s contest for Backstage Pass subscribers. She will receive a pair of tickets to a 2015 performance of Pygmalion. Backstage Pass subscribers are automatically entered to win each month.