Eliza Doolittle holds a special place in Shannon Gralow’s heart. As Toowoomba’s theatrical leading lady, Ms Gralow has given life to many iconic characters on the Empire Theatre stage over the past decade, including Mary in Mary Poppins, Maria in The Sound of Music, Cinderella in Into the Woods, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, and Glinda in Wicked.

But Eliza Doolittle, the main character in My Fair Lady, is a defining role for her. “My Fair Lady was one of the first musicals I saw when I was a little girl,” Ms Gralow said. “I was immediately drawn to the beauty of Eliza’s character, and how she blossoms.”

Ms Gralow, who has been performing in musicals since she was four years old, first played this feisty character in a school production. At the time, she was a Year 11 student at Fairholme College. “I loved it, it was a wonderful show and made me realise just how much depth Eliza has as a character. The music is also beautiful. Songs like Wouldn’t it be Loverly?, Rain in Spain, or I Could’ve Danced All Night are some of the greatest in musical theatre history.”

In September, Ms Gralow will once again light up the theatre for the Toowoomba Choral Society’s 2019 production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady. This is the fourth time the Society has produced My Fair Lady in its sixty-year history. It is considered one of the most successful musicals ever performed at the Empire Theatre.

“There are many amazing actors who have played Eliza,” Ms Gralow said. “Living up to people’s expectations can be stressful, but I’m excited for the challenge.” Ms Gralow’s on-stage charisma and vocal talents are easily matched by Opera Queensland’s Jon Maskell, who encapsulates the intellectual and socially boorish Professor Henry Higgins. “Jon and I have enjoyed worked together in the past – he played Prince Charming to my Cinderella and Judge Turpin to my Johanna in Sweeney Todd,” Ms Gralow said. “We’re enjoying the witty and often heated dialogue exchanges between the Eliza and Henry.” Rehearsals are well underway under the expert direction of Kate Peters OAM.

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