Everyone takes pride in a job well done, but when that job involves turning a young woman's life upside down and then leaving her flat, there are bound to be problems.

Luckily for local theater lovers, those problems result in a wonderful evening of entertainment when California Shakespeare Theater presents "Pygmalion," George Bernard Shaw's sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system and commentary on women's independence. It runs July 30-Aug. 24 at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda.

"This play is an extraordinary piece of writing -- comic, political, provocative and surprisingly moving," said director Jonathan Moscone. "Shaw never ceases to amaze me in how passionate and relevant and genuinely witty his thoughts are on the subjects of society and relationships."

Based on the Greek myth of the sculptor who falls in love with the statue he creates, "Pygmalion" tells of the Cockney flower girl and Professor Higgins' wager to transform her into a duchess by teaching her to speak correctly. Adapting the play for film in 1938, Shaw became the first person to ever win the Nobel Prize for literature and the Academy Award. It went on to inspire the 1956 musical "My Fair Lady," adapted to film in 1964, which starred Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.


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But the original play has always drawn my attention and, given the cast and creative team Moscone has put together, I'm sure I won't be disappointed in this latest production. Anthony Fusco (wonderful in Berkeley Rep's recent production of "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide") plays Professor Henry Higgins, with Irene Lucio making her Cal Shakes' debut as Eliza Doolittle. The cast also includes L. Peter Callender (Col. Pickering), James Carpenter (Alfred Doolittle), Sharon Lockwood (Mrs. Higgins) and Catherine Castellanos (Higgins' housekeeper).

Lots of special events are planned including Tuesday Wine Tastings and an open-captioned performance on Wednesday, Aug. 6. For more information and reservations, call 510-548-9666 or go to www.calshakes.org.

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    Diablo Theatre Company's Stars 2000 Teen Theatre takes on 1920s New York with its upcoming production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," running July 25-Aug. 3 at Diablo Valley College Performing Arts Center.

    Who better to portray frisky flappers than a group of equally energetic teens? The story of young Millie Dillmount, who leaves her small town to find a new life in the big city, must resonate with teenagers who are also searching for their identities. Full of lively tap dance numbers and lots of comedy, this show should be good fun for the entire family.

    For tickets, go to www.diablotheatre.org.

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    Women of Experience opens "Yes. It Is All About Us!" July 25 at 8 p.m. at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez. The show continues July 26, 31 and Aug. 1 at 8 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. show July 27.

    "It's the voice of the overlooked woman -- past motherhood and before senile dementia," said Lynne Elizondo, one of the performers. "We talk about our lives, experiences, fears and hopes in fun yet truthful ways."

    Tickets will be available at the door or by emailing Elizondo at lynnesse@pacbell.net.

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    Do you know someone who impacts local arts in a positive way? If so, the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County (AC5) would love to hear about him/her. Nominations are now open for the 2014 Arts Recognition Awards, which honor individuals, businesses, institutions and charitable organizations that have made significant contributions to Contra Costa's arts and culture.

    All disciplines are included -- performing, visual, literary, digital, arts/culture administration or education, volunteer support and philanthropy. For more information, email staff@ac5.cccounty.us or go to www.ac5.org.

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    Congratulations to Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The company hasn't even opened Hershey Felder's one-man show "Monsieur Chopin" and it's already been extended. Felder takes audiences to 1848 Paris as he passionately portrays the "poet of the piano," revealing his secrets against a lush score of more than a dozen of Chopin's compositions.

    The show now runs July 25-Aug. 10 at Berkeley Rep's intimate Thrust Stage. For tickets, call 510-647-2949 or go to www.berkeleyrep.org.

    Contact Sally Hogarty at sallyhogarty@gmail.com