My Fair Lady
Review by: Terry Rymer (NODA Rep East Dist 6
Director - Sarah Cook
Musical Director - Stuart Lamb
Choreographer - Jean Cator
A grand opening from a strong chorus sets the scene. Perhaps a little crowded, but full of energy and with the portent of some strong singing of the many well known melodies from this popular show. WLOG were indeed fortunate to have such a strong casting base as each principal role had strong vocals and a character portrayal to match…None less than Gary Watson as Henry Higgins whose slightly different interpretation took a little time to adjust to, as at first he appeared a trifle over strident in his dealings with Eliza, but as the scene developed and Colonel Pickering arrived we grew to understand him and his persona really drove the show as he strode with that overwhelming arrogance and self belief so much the rationale of the whole story! He was indeed stylish and with a stage presence that stamped his authority on every scene…we particularly enjoyed the moments of his interactions with his mother Mrs Higgins (Christine Mullord) as she openly chastised that very style and arrogance at every opportunity! She was suitably strong and supportive of Eliza as the unlikely relationship with Henry developed!
As Eliza we had the exquisite persona of Emily Holt as she transforms from lowly street flower seller into the elegant lady under the instruction from Higgins. She showed every nuance of the pain of that transition and became the epitome of an upper class lady albeit with sufficient cockney slang to provide some nice touches of humour. A small point that perhaps her initial cockney could have been a tad more guttural ( eg Garrrrn not GARN!) and her street demeanour less ‘clean’ to justify Higgins’ comment to Mrs Pearce to scrape and scrub her before beginning his tuition. Hers’ was none the less an impeccable performance and her vocal prowess shone through her solo numbers.
As her father, the male supporting role to die for, Alfred Doolittle (Tommy Magee) was true to the rough and ready ‘street philosopher’ as he shows his duplicitous and reprehensible character traits, so necessary in his dealings with his daughter and his attempt to manipulate the situation to his advantage with Henry Higgins…Inevitably his rendition of ‘Get Me To The Church..’ with the vibrant chorus was a real show stopper. His cronies Harry and Jamie (Mike Catling and Lee Peck) were also nicely portrayed as they were summarily ejected from the pub and as his clearly loyal partners in ‘crime’.
As Henry’s long lost friend and companion we had the pacifying traits of Colonel Pickering (Paul Ashby) who really excelled as the peace maker and confidant to Eliza. His was a gentle, convincing and reassuring performance. The contrast in characters between him and Higgins was well balanced and brought some humanity to the proceedings.
A strong cameo as the would be suitor from Neville Rowell as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, was a real show stopper as his outstanding tenor voice wowed the audience in his rendition of ‘On The Street Where You Live’, and his portrayal of suitably besotted upper class dreamer was impeccable. The role of Higgins’ housekeeper Mrs Pearce (Debbie Lambert) added a touch of reality to the Higgins home life, and her nicely underplayed support for Eliza and knowing facials were superb… we loved her cheeky drinking of the drink left behind by Henry!
We had two equally well delivered cameos from Mrs Eynsford-Hill (Jackie Kefford) and the attempted subtle Hungarian Royal seduction by Zoltan Karpathy ( John Hammond), all adding to the overall strength in depth for this production. Add to this the aforementioned chorus also covering any smaller named parts and a creative set with a well conceived projected scenario…excellent and appropriate, and mostly of the era, costumes all brought together a well produced and delivered version of this timeless classic… Audience reaction was in itself proof of the quality of this production.