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A loverly Eliza

Even though I'm on vacation until Jan. 1 (when I return to review Sweeney Todd at Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, then jump to The Drowsy Chaperone at the Broward Center the next night), when there's a major show in town, it's like dangling catnip before a feline who's ready to rumble.  So last night, I did the busman's holiday thing and caught My Fair Lady at the Carnival Center.  My colleague, Howard Cohen, handled the pressure of doing an overnight review, so I got to simply savor the pleasures of this Cameron Mackintosh-produced revival. Thanks in huge measure to leading lady Lisa O'Hare, this Lady is beyond fair.

Lisa_ohare I caught this revival just before Halloween when it played the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, but O'Hare was M.I.A. then, battling a case of strep throat.  The matinee Eliza, Dana DeLisa, stepped into the role, and though she gave a perfectly fine performance, I remember thinking that perhaps other critics -- and England's Olivier Awards -- had gone overboard in their love for director Trevor Nunn's darker take on Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.  Now, thanks to O'Hare, I think I've got it.

Trained as a dancer, the actress moves like a dream, sings sweetly and has some major comic chops.  She becomes the lithe engine who drives the whole production, a Cinderella who transforms everyone who shares the stage with her.

My Fair Lady plays the Carnival Center through  Sunday.  If you can tear yourself away from shopping, holiday parties or vacation (!), it's worth catching the show and its loverly star.

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