Friday, August 29, 2008

Broadway Veterans Star in Ogunquit Playhouse’s My Fair Lady

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

One of the “all-time great shows” of American musical theater, Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady is now showing at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Made possible in part by a $20,000 American Masterpiece Grant from the Maine Arts Commission (an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts) to the Playhouse, this Tony Award winning 1956 musical is a timeless story directed in Ogunquit by Shaun Kerrison.
“This beloved musical tells the tale of a stringent linguist, Professor Henry Higgins, who bets a colleague he can turn flower vendor Eliza Doolittle from a guttersnipe into a duchess,” according to Cheryl Farley, Community Relations Manager of the Ogunquit Playhouse.
Following a recent performance, two of the main actors in My Fair Lady sat down for an interview with the Weekly Sentinel.
Conrad John Schuck, a 40-year veteran of stage and screen (and whose first screen kiss was with Elizabeth Taylor), plays Colonel Pickering, friend and colleague of Henry Higgins. Nancy Dussault, recipient of multiple Tony Award nominations for her work on Broadway, plays Mrs. Higgins, mother of the main character Henry Higgins.
Weekly Sentinel: Why did you want to play a part in My Fair Lady?
Schuck: “It was one of the all-time great shows when I grew up. Now it’s part of the American musical theater lexicon and I had simply never done it.”
Dussault: “I’ve played Eliza Doolittle before, Mrs. Higgins is a smaller role but it’s a great one. And for me this just came along at a great time.”
WS: Why do you think a play as old as My Fair Lady remains popular?
Dussault: “It’s a Cinderella story. It’s got a score that rivals almost anything ever written. You feel wonderful when you come out of the theater. It’s a love story, but it’s a different kind of love story, and the characters are great, and the language is extraordinary. The show is long, but it’s so great a story it’s easy to do. It’s a classic.”
WS: How has your experience in Maine been so far?
Schuck: “I arrived from Los Angeles on August 5th and it’s been terrific, but we just can’t find any lakes! (jokingly) We spent our day off in Boothbay Harbor. It’s glorious. Ogunquit is great. The people are very friendly and it’s so charming. I’m thrilled that this playhouse is still here.”
Dussault: “I had to come to Maine! I felt like I was the only actress to not have played here! (OPH) You need to be really proud of this theater.”
My Fair Lady will be at the Ogunquit Playhouse through September 6. For more information visit or call 646-5511.
Caption: Nancy Dussault (right), nominated for multiple Tony Awards for her work on Broadway, plays Mrs. Higgins in Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of My Fair Lady. She is pictured opposite Gail Bennett who plays Eliza Doolittle. (Courtesy photo)