Dordt College is off to the Races with My Fair Lady

Dordt’s mainstage musical will open October 11, 2018

Holly Hiemstra and Zach Dirksen rehearse, as Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins.

Sioux Center, Iowa: On October 11-13, Dordt College will present My Fair Lady, Dordt’s first mainstage musical in four years.

The show will be a collaboration between Dordt’s theater and music departments. Ryan Smit, Dordt choir director, is the music director for the show. The cast includes many music students who have not participated in theater productions previously, as well as a pit orchestra. For Teresa TerHaar, head of the theatre department at Dordt, this departmental collaboration is one of the things she is most excited about. 

My Fair Lady is such an incredible classic,” says TerHaar. “Characters trying to become more than they were born to be is such a trope in our life, and this show tells that story in such a delicious and interesting way. But it’s also challenging. Higgins is a bit misogynistic, yet we still root for him to get the girl, and we also want to see Eliza transform herself and best Higgins. It’s really interesting coming to this play today, especially with some of the gender wars that have happened. I want to tell the story in a way that honors what was originally written, but doesn’t let it necessarily stay there.”

“It’s not a conventional musical,” says junior Zach Dirksen, who plays leading man Henry Higgins. “It’s much more personal, while retaining a classical feel. I want to explore Higgins differently than Rex Harrison did, who played him in the film. I want to make him less of a villain, so that the audience might root for him, while still retaining his less-than-benevolent presence.”

Senior Holly Hiemstra will make her Dordt theatre debut as Higgins’s young prodigy, Eliza. Hiemstra loved theatre in high school, but once she began nursing school at Dordt she thought that she would be too busy. But she decided to audition for this mainstage production, and the rest is history. “I love the transformation,” says Hiemstra. “I can play two different characters: a rough and uncultured girl who then transforms into this elegant lady.”

Dordt’s costume shop will be designing and creating somewhere between 30 and 45 fancy period hats, specifically for the show. Student Katie Fictorie will be designing all of the hats, and making many of them from the ground up, using buckram, a frame, and fabric decorations. Her hat design work will be submitted to the American College Theatre Festival.

The show will follow Eliza and Henry through 1912 London. “Because we change location so often, we’ve chosen to pull the most iconic parts of those locations,” says Laura Andersen, tech director and scenic designer. “Probably the most recognizable one is the green steel archway of Covent Garden Marketplace. For the opening scene at the Royal Opera, we pulled the six white pillars from the front of the building as the scenic element. People can be looking for those familiar architectural pieces.”

From the iconic set and lavish costumes to the show-stopping tunes and delightful Cockney accents, this show is one not to be missed. Showtimes are October 11-13 at 7:30 p.m., October 18 at 7:30 p.m., and October 20 at 2 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. For tickets, visit www.dordttickets.com.