Northern Lights Radio Theater, 15 March 2012
Sometimes it's fascinating to discover how to achieve the impossible.
The task facing Daniel and Meagan Wanschura was to produce a 15-minute adaptation of Lerner and Loewe's immortal musical for
four characters (Eliza, Higgins, Mrs. Pearce and a London bystander), without singing a note of the original music (due to
They made a brave attempt to fulfil their aim by ending the story at the point when
Eliza (Meagan Wanschura) learns how to pronounce the King's English properly ("the rain in Spain stays mainly in the
plain," "in Hereford, Hertford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.") Professor Higgins (Daniel Wanschura) congratulated
himself on his achievement, while Eliza joyfully relished her new-found linguistic competence.
Until that point, life had been hard going for both of them. Higgins worked tirelessly
to improve the flower girl's vowels, but it seemed that she did not possess any linguistic talent. In this version of the
play, Eliza did not seem particularly self-willed or stubborn; she wanted to improve herself, but seldom succeeded. It was
only when she cast off her inhibitions and allowed her fundamentally benevolent personality to express itself that she managed
to change. As portrayed by Daniel Wanschura, Higgins seemed a much younger man than one might have come to expect, but he
seemed genuinely interested in his protegee. The task of training her wasn't an ego-trip, but something that he genuinely
wanted to do for Eliza's sake. While the relationship between the two was often stormy, they both retained a basic generosity
of spirit - an unusual yet productive reading of the Lerner and Loewe text.
Perhaps one or two aspects of the production might have been improved: Eliza's London
accent left a lot to be desired, while both protagonists insisted on pronouncing "Hertford" as "Hurtford," rather than "Hartford,"
which is how a British listener might understand it. But they are just minor cavils - in general I thoroughly enjoyed listening
to this production, offering a fresh slant on familiar material.