If you’re familiar with the story line of My Fair Lady, you’ll recognize the story of Pygmalion. It’s a good dose of personality, with a little bit of satire, and a little bit of humor mixed in. And it’s happening at the Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs October 15-18, 2015.
George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion begins at the portico of Saint Paul’s Church, during a surprise rainstorm. It is there, amidst the bystanders, that Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics and author of Higgins Universal Alphabet, not only meets a colleague that he intended to go to India to meet, but also a flower girl who will come to test the length and breadth of both his teaching ability and his personality.
When the flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) shows up at Higgins’ house, he’s quite surprised, but she’s determined to become a lady in a flower shop. So, with the help of his friend, Colonel Pickering, Higgins takes the challenge to turn a poor, common, Cockney flower girl into a proper English lady. To add to the excitement, he takes a bet he can do it in six months.
The title, “Pygmalion,” comes from a story in Greek mythology. According to the Greeks, Pygmalion was a sculptor from the island of Cyprus, who saw women as flawed creatures and wanted nothing to do with them, even to the point of avoiding all contact with them. Instead, he looked to his art to create for himself the perfect woman. The story goes that Pygmalion fell in love with his statue, and when he went to the temple of Aphrodite, she answered his prayer by bringing the statue to life. Aphrodite blessed them, they married, and they lived happily ever after.
Shaw’s Pygmalion is similar in some ways. Higgins, like Pygmalion, is a master at his art, and pours his skills and talents into his work in order to achieve the perfect model. However, Higgins’ art is already alive. She becomes his masterpiece, yes, but she has a life and a voice and a personality of her own that make the “happily ever after” a little more challenging.
George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion will be playing at the historic Kent Theatre, in Cedar Springs, October 15-17 at 7:30 p.m. and October 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Cedar Springs Public Library or from a cast member.