Former local television news anchor Cabot Rea once again will take the stage at the Northland Performing Arts Center in the lead role of a classic musical.

The annual shows help sustain the venue at 4411 Tamarack Blvd.

After starring in "South Pacific" last year, this time around, Rea is tackling the demanding role of Henry Higgins in a production of "My Fair Lady."

"This is a very traditional 'My Fair Lady,' " show director David Bahgat said.

Based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play "Pygmalion," the musical made its Broadway debut in 1956 with Rex Harrison playing Henry Higgins and Julie Andrews in the role of Cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle. A film version came out in 1964, with Harrison reprising his role but Audrey Hepburn taking over as Eliza.

Show times for the Northland Performing Arts Center production are scheduled at 8 p.m. Sept. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, with 2 p.m. matinees Sept. 17 and 24.

Tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for students and senior citizens and $15 for ages 12 and younger. They are available at MyFairLady614.com or by calling 614-262-7469.

Rea, who retired from WCMH-TV in December 2015 after almost 30 years with the station, said portraying Higgins presents him with a lot of work.

"This is the biggest part I've ever played in my life," he said.

The character is onstage for practically every scene and, as a scholar of phonetics who undertakes the job of making Eliza Doolittle talk like a lady, his "rhetoric is unending," Rea said.

Rea is "doing a really nice job with the role," Bahgat said. While tipping his hat to Rex Harrison's take on Henry Higgins, Rea is by the same token "putting his own spin on it," the director said.

"The biggest challenge, honestly, for me at my age, (is) it's harder to inhale all the lines," Rea said. "It's a good challenge. It keeps your mind fresh."

Ronnie Stiffler of Upper Arlington was cast as the female lead in the production.

"One thing I really love about Eliza: She gets to be a really strong female character but sings the ingenue songs," Stiffler said.

"Her songs really help move the story forward. They're not superfluous."

Michael Ruehrmund of Westerville plays Alfred Doolittle, Eliza's wastrel father.

"It's about letting go of all moral codes, moral compass," Ruehrmund said. "He lives in a place where he's not responsible to anyone but himself, and he likes it that way. He's fun to play. He's a funny guy."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1