Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
David and I lucked into tickets to see My Fair Lady last night. My friend Jim let me know that our mutual friend Kevin was in the national tour that was currently playing in Charlotte. He put us in touch with each other and the starts aligned just right because David and I were both out of town but returned in time for the final performance, and Kevin hooked us up with tickets to what appeared to be a sold-out performance.
Seeing live theatre is always a treat. Any grumbling I have about the cost of theatre tickets is instantly silenced as soon as I see the amazing set and costumes and all of the people who are involved in getting a production of that magnitude off the ground and into my local theatre. And when the leads all sing their first notes and I can tell that we are in good hands, when the singing and the acting are both top-notch and one is not sacrificed for the other, I sit back and relax and prepare to be mesmerized and enthralled.
This show did not disappoint. It had the comfort and familiarity of a story and songs I knew, but enough added twists and modern nuances to make it feel fresh and intriguing. The set was spectacular and was mesmerizing in the way it was incorporated into each scene. And it was easy to see why the costume designer won a Tony for her incredible costumes, many of which were the same ones used in the Broadway production.
But let me tell you, when you know someone on the stage in a show of this caliber, that just adds another layer of wonder to the experience. The whole thing came together so quickly that it never occurred to me to ask Kevin what part he was playing and I just assumed he was in the ensemble, since that is enough of a feat for a national tour of a Broadway musical. David and I took our seats with seconds to spare, thanks to the traffic nightmare that parking at Ovens Auditorium entails. It wasn’t until midway through the first act, when David shone his iPhone light on the program to point out to me that Kevin was playing none other than Colonel Pickering, that I realized my friend had one of the leading roles. Kevin did a masterful job and I was able to tell him so afterwards when we met up with him in the lobby.
He told us that he signed on for the national tour for a year. The schedule sounds grueling, and the logistics even more so. The set is broken down and rebuilt in each new city and is transported in three 18-wheeler trucks. There are 35 cast members, a dozen crew members, and a small orchestra who traipse from city to city, with occasional breaks built in to recharge back at home. It was a good reminder to me, as an audience member who sometimes gasps at the price of theatre tickets, how very much goes into each performance. And talking to Kevin, who has made a life out of doing what he loves, also served as a great reminder of how lucky we are when we get to do just that.