Call it recession-chic. Or, call it getting creative with space. Either way, New Surry Theatre’s redesigned take on a classic musical saves both money and space — without sacrificing a thing as far as quality goes.
Starting Friday, NST’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” goes up for three weekends at the Blue Hill Town Hall. Instead of massive dance scenes and a full set, however, artistic director Bill Raiten has opted for more stripped-down staging. Among several changes, actors and actresses will read partially from scripts during dialogue scenes, while musical scenes will be off-book and staged normally.
“We got the idea from the Encore Series at City Center in New York City,” said Raiten.
“With the size of the Town Hall, it’s impossible to do a big musical show. They do the same thing in New York City … pared-down productions that still have a high level of creativity and skill. It allows us to not charge too much money and still do fun shows, like ‘My Fair Lady.’”
Additionally, Raiten and company have redesigned the stage at the Blue Hill Town Hall. There’s a semicircle ramp at the front of the stage, and another ramp leading 12 feet out along the sides, allowing for more options for staging, given the size of the auditorium.
The show stars Summer Vogel, a graduate of George Stevens Academy and a current student at Bard College in New York, as the irascible Eliza Doolittle. Longtime NST collaborator Michael Reichgott stars as Henry Higgins. Though actors will not be fully off-book and not every scene is fully staged, the costumes, designed by Elena Bourakovsky, remain as elegant as ever, as does the classic Broadway music, under the direction of Sheldon Bisberg.
If this production of “My Fair Lady” is a success, Raiten hopes that the model for it leads to more opportunities to do musical theater.
“If this works, we may do three or more musicals a year,” said Raiten. “We’d love to do shows like ‘Damn Yankees’ or ‘The Pajama Game,’ that are typically way too big and expensive for us. It’s very exciting.”
“My Fair Lady” will be performed at 7 p.m. Aug. 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at the Blue Hill Town Hall. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for students and seniors. For more information, visit www.newsurrytheatre.org.