Amy Pavri shares her thoughts on the classic musical…
‘My Fair Lady‘ is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated musicals to enter the Playhouse this year, and it is fair to say that it did not disappoint!
Despite the fame surrounding ‘My Fair Lady’, I have not ever seen the classic starring Audrey Hepburn. Therefore, I went into this production with zero expectations or ideas of what the plot would bring.
Firstly, I must give credit to the orchestra; the opening overture sent chills through my body and set the tone of the 1913 period perfectly. Alex Parker led his pit through many pieces, each engaging the audience to perfection.
Barlett Sher’s adaptation of ‘My Fair Lady’ tells the story of working-class Cockney girl Eliza Doolittle, who decides to attend speech lessons with established phonetician, Henry Higgins. With these lessons, she hopes that she will be able to pass as a lady, so she can leave the streets and work in a flower shop.
From the get-go, it was evident that this was an extremely talented cast. However, unsurprisingly, Michael D. Xavier was a stand-out. He successfully portrayed a cynical, misogynistic narcissist whilst maintaining humour, constantly delighting the audience with his outrageous jokes. His chemistry with co-star Charlotte Kennedy, who played the stubborn Eliza Doolittle, was electric all the way until the closing curtain.
My absolute highlight of the show was the set. It was one of the most detailed pieces of structure I have seen in a theatrical production, and its rotating nature really helped to bring the story to life, particularly in Higgins’ office. The ensemble ensured transitions between sets were seamless, and their elegance on stage was a pleasure to watch.
Another highlight was Adam Woodyatt’s rendition of ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’. This was the soap star’s first time on stage since 1980, but he did not disappoint – portraying Eliza’s father, the drunk comic of the show. The number was fast-paced and chaotic, with showgirl costumes and fantastic choreography by Christopher Gattelli. It reminded me of Les Misérables’s ‘Master of the House’ and was clearly a favourite with the audience.
The vocals were beautiful and matched the classic feel of the musical. Charlotte Kennedy’s portrayal of Eliza felt timeless, yet powerful, and all her songs were performed with clear intentions and drive.
A scene that must be credited was at the Ascot races, where Eliza displays her newfound ladylike abilities for the first time. The costumes were exquisite, and the poised, proper nature of the company was hilarious to witness.
I loved that the classic did not focus on romantic relationships. There were times I was worried that the two protagonists would lose their fierce, platonic chemistry and discover a secret love for one another. However, this was not the case which kept the plot from becoming predictable. The only thing I was not sure about was the ending, as it was left incredibly open to interpretation.
I really enjoyed this production. The songs brought feelings of nostalgia for me, and every member of the cast worked well together to paint a believable picture of life in 1913. My Fair Lady is a must-see.