Leading lady makes national debut in ‘My Fair Lady’ at StranahanWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aurora Florence has had a whirlwind year.
The 22-year-old graduated from college and got married before embarking on a national traveling tour of “My Fair Lady” as leading lady Eliza Doolittle this fall.
Florence, who graduated in June from Brigham Young University with a degree in musical theater, said she feels blessed to be working in her first “real job” so soon after graduation.
“It’s really wonderful,” Florence told Toledo Free Press Star from a tour stop in Lakeland, Fla. “I’ve learned so much. Eliza is such a deep character. There’s so much there to work on from an acting standpoint, so I feel like I’m learning so much.”
Luckily, the newlywed didn’t have to leave her husband behind to follow her dream — he is traveling with her as an ensemble member in the show.
“It’s been very tiring, but really a lot of fun,” Florence said. “It’s so nice to have my husband here with me, for sure.”
“My Fair Lady” opens Dec. 15 in Toledo at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., as part of the Broadway Series presented by the Theater League.
Performances are set for 8 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 17, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18.
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” “My Fair Lady” is the story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who overhears a phonetics professor boast to a friend that he could give her speech lessons and pass her off as a proper lady. The professor, Henry Higgins, was joking, but when Eliza takes him seriously, he agrees to the challenge. During the process, Higgins falls in love with Eliza, while Eliza learns that some people will treat her poorly no matter how well she speaks, while others will treat her well no matter how poorly she speaks.
Memorable songs include “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
“I love getting to sing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night,’” Florence said. “That’s really a treat. Sharing it with the audience is a lot of fun.”
With Eliza having been portrayed by iconic leading ladies Julie Andrews on Broadway and Audrey Hepburn in film, Florence went into the role knowing she may have big shoes to fill in people’s minds.
“Approaching it, I certainly was aware of all that, but I tried to not let it touch me,” she said. “There’s no way I can beat either of them. I just tried to approach the character as honestly as possible.”
Florence grew up near Sacramento, in Loomis, Calif., where her mother runs a nonprofit theater company called Take Note Troupe. She grew up listening to musicals and watching both parents perform, but it wasn’t until she saw a tour of “Les Miserables” in high school that she decided she wanted to pursue theater as a career.
Florence said she can relate to Eliza’s journey of discovering who she really is and learning to stand up for herself.
“I think having the strength and the courage to overstep class boundaries and be true to who she is, I certainly relate to that,” Florence said. “I think it’s a struggle all people go through in how to be true to who they are and to recognize boundaries and restrictions and when they are there to keep you safe and when they should be disregarded.”
Florence said audiences will enjoy the romantic comedy.
“I think they will definitely laugh; it’s a really funny show,” Florence said. “You’ll have a great time. We have a really talented ensemble and a really solid group. I think they can go away feeling inspired to treat people the way they deserve to be treated and also be true to themselves.”
Tickets range from $23 to $58 and are available by calling the Stranahan Theater box office at 866-381-7469, Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787, or online at www.theaterleague.com.
For more information, visit the web site www.myfairladyontour.com.