My Fair Lady

Date 24th May 2018
Society Richmond Operatic Society
Venue Georgian Theatre, Richmond
Type of Production Musical
Director Jodie Martin
Musical Director Gillian Ash
Choreographer Brigette Martin and Jodie Martin

Report

Author: Gordon Richardson

My Fair Lady is a classic and everyone knows what to expect – every now and again you get a little ‘extra’ and so it proved with Richmond OS’s production. Music in the capable hands of Gillian Ash and John Hunter was played with piano and keyboard – both being on stage throughout the show – even with only two instruments the sound wasn’t ‘thin’ and they brought out all the wonderful chords we expect.

Costumes were sumptuous and lighting well plotted. For those that know the Georgian its compactness can leave many a problem for a director but the multipurpose set was well thought through and designed – although a special mention must be made to the crew for the numerous scene changes between Covent garden and Wimpole Street – not easy.

Lou Holliday was a suitably dour and amoral Alfred P Doolittle especially in his big number of ‘Get me to the church on Time’ which was supported well by his two cohorts Jamie & Harry (Mike Stephenson and Jordan Leighton – who also played the ‘hairy Hungarian’ Karparthy with suitable ‘sleaze’).
As Eliza’s ‘suitor’ the role of Freddy was superbly acted and sung in a deep tenor tone by Richard Hamilton and a joy to listen to. Although a smaller cameo role as Mrs Higgins, Deborah Wilson, captivated the audience with her facial expressions whilst delivering her barbed comments with relish.

Managing the ‘household’ of servants was housekeeper Mrs. Pearce played by Helen Cain – once again making the most of her role as the one calming influence in Wimpole street. She was supported by her servants of Anita Wilkinson, Jean Robinson, Edith Hunt, Caitlin Smith and Victoria Bennett in some fine vocal harmonising.

The ensemble supported by smaller roles by Gail Barlow, Tom Lough, Rhoda Fraser, Christine Hill and Richard Escolme enhanced the production throughout and moved well in the tight surroundings without making the stage look cluttered.

Taking on the role of the somewhat naïve and scatter-brained Col. Pickering was Doug Clayton and he was a very well chosen loveable character.

Confirmed bachelor with misogynist tendencies, Henry Higgins was truly wonderfully (if somewhat politically incorrect) played and sung by John Holliday and interacted well with his ‘Eliza’ as they finally became ‘equals’ at the conclusion.

Finally, Eliza Doolittle is an iconic role which everyone compares to Audrey Hepburn – well in the hands of 16 year old Sophie Montgomery the bar was reset. Watching her transforming from ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ from the gutter to a refined lady with some hutzpah was a pleasure to witness – Sophie’s facial expressions, emotional acting and note perfect operatic soprano voice had the audience in raptures. A name to watch in the future for sure. Well done to all involved in this splendid production - although a long show it moved along at pace and well appreciated by the almost capacity audience.