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Intellectual romp

CHINA GROVE — Savannah Deal didn’t even have to leave China Grove to land her dream role as a sassy flower girl turned socialite.

“Ever since I was 2 or 3 years old and first watched ‘My Fair Lady,’ Eliza Doolittle has been my dream role and ‘Pygmalion’ has always been my favorite play, so this absolutely, absolutely a dream come true,” she said.

Deal will join Keaton Brower, as Professor Henry Higgins, and Anthony Cataldo, as Colonel Pickering, in Carson High School’s performance of “Pygmalion: The My Fair Lady Story,” which opens at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Eliza goes from being so lowly on the class scale to being a lady,” she said. “Having to go through that transformation in front of an audience is not only hard for Eliza as character, but for myself as an actress.”

Cataldo, who is participating in his first main stage production since transferring to Carson this school year, has his own set of challenges in playing Pickering.

“He’s a 60-year-old man, so it’s kind of hard to play an aged character,” he said. “I grew out a beard so I could have lamb chops to try to age me some more.”

Brower said it’s been an “absolute blast” to play Higgins.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of different roles before, but this is probably my favorite and in many ways the most challenging I’ve ever played,” he said. “In a lot of ways, he’s a man of many contradictions; he’s very kind in some way and very mean and cold in others.

“He’s a very complex individual.”

Theater teacher Alex Reynolds describes the play as an “intellectual romp about accents.”

“This is a very funny piece,” he said. “It’s kind of a faux romance.”

Reynolds said relationships between the main characters get “boggled” when Higgins begins teaching Doolittle how to speak properly.

“(Higgins and Pickering) wage a great bet about whether or not he can turn her into a duchess and pass her off at a party,” he said. “Everything kind of goes downhill from there.

“Watching them figure out how she changes as a person and how she interacts with her new world is what the show is all about.”

The show will be performed on a thrust stage, with members of the audience sitting on the stage itself.

“The action thrusts out into the audience,” Reynolds said. “It’s been fun because it’s teaching students another style of theater, they have to learn how to break their own rules.”

Brower said the thrust stage allows the audience to get many different view points throughout the show.

“Most people haven’t seen a show like this before,” he said. “The story is great, but I also encourage people to come just for the theatrical experience of it.”

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