Glory Monson and Jill Roberts have something in common.
Roberts plays the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in the upcoming Village Arts’ production of “My Fair Lady,” which Monson directs. However, in a 1968 production, Monson was Eliza Doolittle.
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” the musical follows Eliza, a Cockney flower girl in England in 1912, as she becomes the subject of a phonetics professor’s bet that he can pass her off as a member of high society.
“[My Fair Lady] addresses the classes of London at the time,” Monson said. “It involves a young woman who wants to better herself.”
Roberts said: “I think it explores the idea that switching classes isn’t necessarily bettering herself. Each class has its own challenges, and her father talks about it in the play too that he doesn’t like being upper-class. He has more pressures on him, and she comes to realize that kind of the same thing, that going up in class doesn’t necessarily make her happier.”
Monson recalls that the 1968 performance was done in the Rugby Armory, and in the round.
“You have to face all around, it’s not like looking from a stage,” Monson said. “But I can’t really say I minded it at the time.”
Monson recalls her favorite part of the experience being Eliza’s first song in the musical.
“[You] see [Eliza] for what she really is,” said Monson. “She wants to be happy and comfortable.”
For Monson, the role was also the first time she sang lead. Monson had been used to directing however she could not convince anyone to go for the lead.
“I thought, either dare to do it or don’t do it,” Monson said. “The fear of feeling, ‘Do I really dare to do this?’ that was scary.”
Another challenge Monson recalls was a scene involving a quick costume change.
Roberts said one of the biggest challenges regarding the role of Eliza has been bringing a multi-faceted character to life.
“With Eliza it was a lot of thinking about characterization,” Roberts said. “How is she in this scene, how is she in this scene and how can I make her one person. She is a three-dimensional character. That is challenging, but it’s helpful having the directors we have.”
“My Fair Lady” performances are at 8 p.m. June 23-26 in the Tilman Hovland Auditorium at Rugby High School.
“I hope that people have a good time,” said Roberts. “I hope that they laugh and I hope that they feel along with the characters. I hope that we can make [the audience] feel something and be entertained.”
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