I've just been reading Charles Isherwood's review of the Philharmonic concert staging of My Fair Lady, and I feel I must take issue with an aspect of it that seems less than fair. Ish makes much of the fact that, in his mind, the stars (save Kelli O'Hara) seem to be playing against type, and by "against type" I really mean "against their accustomed medium." He writes, "The visitors from Sitcom City are Kelsey Grammer, formerly of Frasier, who plays the high-handed phonetician Henry Higgins, and Charles Kimbrough, of Murphy Brown, as his upper-crust sidekick, Colonel Pickering."
This struck me as an awkward, and oddly beside-the-point, way to open a review of a concert staging of a musical. Ish moved on for a few paragraphs, only to take up the same old theme, beginning a paragraph about Grammer's performance by saying, "Broadway purists inclined to raise an eyebrow at the presence of a sitcom star in the celebrated role of Henry Higgins..."
This is the point at which I feel obliged to speak up: Hasn't Kelsey Grammer done a fair amount of theatre? Including musicals? I'm not the head of the KG fan club or anything, but it seems profoundly unfair to me to talk about him like he's Ashton Kutcher. And to insist on discussing his performance in that context. Especially since -- and I'm sorry if this comes as a shock, Mr. Isherwood -- Frasier has been off the air for years. Although not as many years as Murphy Brown, and I realize you needed someone else to make your point about "sitcom stars," but if you really care about musicals and casting and such, you don't think "Oh, the guy from Murphy Brown" when you hear "Charles Kimbrough."
Now, if he'd mentioned Kelsey G's appearances on The Simpsons, I wouldn't object. Because I think I might giggle a little bit at a Henry Higgins who sounded like Sideshow Bob.