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Photo by Kathryn Ross // Eliza Doolittle, played by actress Bridget Christman (left), and Professor Henry Higgins, played by Matthew Warren, confront each other at the flower market in Starlight Theatre’s “Mayfair Lady.”

By KATHRYN ROSS

WELLSVILLE — Back on the boards after a COVID-19 hiatus, the Starlight Theatre Company is doing its own take on a 100-year-old play.
Thespians will present “Mayfair Lady” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Grace United Mission Center on Maple Avenue. If the title seems familiar, their version is one of many adaptations, this one by Gary Peterson, of the George Benard Shaw rendition of “Pygmalion.” Shaw’s play, which was first offered in 1918, is itself a rendition of an ancient Greek play.
Of course, most people will recognize the play as the romance musical “My Fair Lady,” but Brian Keib, the show’s producer, said the Starlight Theatre production is not the same romantic musical. For starters, no one will be hearing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” or “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
“This is not a musical,” Keib said.
But then it isn’t a serious play, either, not with the delightful British accents and Victorian costumes. While it is the light-hearted story of a pompous, upper-class linguist who accepts a bet that he can turn a humble flower girl into a lady who could talk to a king, it is also about women’s empowerment.
Shaw’s story was written at a time when British women were leading the international fight for women’s rights and reflects that struggle while Hollywood turned “My Fair Lady” into a romantic comedy where the two lead characters fall in love and live happily ever after.
“People will have to decide for themselves what will happen to Eliza and Professor Higgins at the end of our last act,” Keib said.
Keib, director Heidi Lawson and theater company members have been working on the play since November but have also put in time scouring the area for props and costumes.
“We’ve gotten some help with costuming from our own closet as well as the high school theater department, and we’ve gone on Amazon,” Keib said.
They have also looked in area thrift stores to find props that will make the sets more realistic. They were lucky enough to find a Victrola, as well as Edison wax cartridges for it.
With the fascination of “Downton Abbey,” “Bridgerton,” “Poldark” and Queen Elizabeth herself, Keib said he believes that Anglophiles will enjoy the work the cast have put in to make it sound authentic.
“We’ve gotten some tutorials and looked at some YouTube videos to get the accents right, but we’ve steered away from watching the movie,” he noted.
They are hoping that those familiar with the highbrow and low brow English accents will be convinced.
The members of the cast are Matthew Warren as Professor Higgins, Bridget Christman as Eliza, Seth Tinder, Shirley Mangels, Bella Wenslow, Ryan Keib, Stacy Cretekos, Felicity Morrison Matthew Sanders, Ashden Hyslip, Izzy Tinder, Kennedy Ewing, Emily Usselman and Daphne O’Kelly.
The members of the crew include Jamie O’Kelly, Amy Thomas and Dakota Silsby.
As part of the production the theater group will be offering its traditional desserts.
“But because of COVID everything will be wrapped up and it will look more like a bake sale than a dessert table,” Keib said.
Covid protocols will be followed with those attending asked to wear masks.
Ticket costs are $5 including dessert and the doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for each performance. The venue can be reached from Main Street by turning east on to Fassett Lane or by following the state Route 417 cutoff on the Andover Road into the village and turning onto Maple Avenue.