Qualicum Beach School of Dance students are getting ready for their first theatre production in two years.
The students will put on My Fair Lady, set in 1912 London, which tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor, who makes a bet that he can turn her into society’s expectations of what it is to be a “lady.”
“He’s the worst. He’s a character based on misogyny and, throughout the whole play, I think its really cool to see how he transforms through his relationships with different characters like Eliza Doolittle. And how even if those characters are not his favourite people, they make a long lasting impact on him,” said James Miguel, who plays Higgins, along with Abigail Delves. All the play’s lead roles are double cast in case of illness, and each lead actor will perform twice.
Eliza is played by sisters Elena Sales and Lyra Sales.
“She ends up talking to Higgins, who off-hand says that if he taught her how to speak differently, she could become somebody of upper class, upper society and so she goes to Higgins to take him up on that offer,” Lyra said.
“By the end she does transform into a lady, but it’s not all Higgins’s doing,” Elena added.
The play deals with issues such as the class divisions and the treatment of women in society. Despite being based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which is more than 100 years old, the subject matter is still relevant, director Jennifer Kelly said.
“It may seem dated, but I think some of the topics that the musical touches on are really important and they still exist today.”
The play’s themes sparked many discussions among the cast members. Senior students even explored several possible endings and rewrites, although the script itself cannot be altered.
My Fair Lady will play at the Village Theatre from May 13 to May 15.
The school’s last production, two years ago, of The Little Mermaid, was cancelled five weeks before opening because of pandemic concerns. The 33-member cast is made up of students from Ballenas Secondary School, Kwalikum Secondary School, as well as most of the schools in the district and a few from Nanaimo, according to Kelly. There are also four adult players.
Kelly said she is grateful to Shari Selva, studio owner and director, as well as ECHO Players and Bard to Broadway for assisting with the many props and costumes needed for the period piece.
The cast has been rehearsing since October — lead roles meet twice per week and the rest of the cast once per week, according to Kelly.
This will be the eighth season of musical theatre for Qualicum Beach School of Dance, offering performing arts eduction since 1999.
My Fair Lady runs with two evening show and two matinees. Tickets are $24.35.