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My Fair Lady

Date

2nd May 2019

Society

Canterbury Operatic Society

Venue

Marlowe Theatre Canterbury

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Ray Howes

Musical Director

Tony Matthews

Choreographer

Courtney Jones

Report

Author: Cheryl Mumford

My Fair Lady is a classic and everyone knows what to expect. For me it holds a special place in my heart. It was the musical that engaged my love of theatre in the first instance and to be back in the same theatre reviewing the same society where I had the honour of playing Eliza Doolittle 20 years previously brought plenty of wonderful emotions flooding back.

We were treated to a fantastic Georgian set which really helped set the scene for the piece, ably assisted by sympathetic lighting created by Roger Davis and some stunningly sumptuous costumes by the always meticulously eyed Linda McCann. The Ascot scene was a real feast for the eyes. Choreography by Courtney Jones was exuberant and added a real sense of fun to what I felt was a rather more static production than it needed to be. I would have loved to have seen more of her work in the musical numbers.

Eliza Doolittle is an iconic and demanding role which was ably handled by Alice Martin. Her note-perfect operatic soprano voice had the audience in raptures and although she seemed more comfortable as a refined lady than a “squashed cabbage leaf” the transformation was a pleasure to watch.

Confirmed bachelor with misogynist tendencies, Henry Higgins was truly wonderfully (if somewhat politically incorrect) played and sung by David Bedford and interacted well with his ‘Eliza’ as they finally became ‘equals’ at the conclusion. He had a great presence and a real command and understanding of the character. Any society would be lucky to have this first class performer in their ranks.

Taking on the role of the somewhat naïve and scatter-brained Col. Pickering was Derry Martin who was very well chosen in this role and managed to bring out the humour of the character. Colin Epps was a suitably dour and amoral Alfred P Doolittle, though he appeared a little lost and lacking in command in his musical numbers.  He was well supported by his two cohorts Harry played by Mark Dunt and Jamie played by Jamie Mount who also played the hairy Hungarian sleaze ball Karparthy in some rather horrifically comedic facial hair and wig which was slightly off putting.

As Eliza’s slightly wet suitor, Nathan Drake played the role with the necessary upper class tones needed and sang beautifully. Although a smaller cameo role as Mrs Higgins, Angela Bowden is a real scene stealer! Her facial expressions whilst delivering her barbed comments were a joy to watch and she absolutely enjoyed, with relish, the delivery of each one.

Managing the ‘household’ of servants was housekeeper Mrs. Pearce played by Shirley Cook who made the most of her role as the calming influence of Wimpole Street, with a genuine kindness and affection for all and an underlying maternal quality towards Eliza. A very well thought out character.  She was supported by her servants of Leanne Hardy, Grace Newton, Alice Vane, Jamie Mount and Rob Francis in some fantastic vocal harmonising.

The ensemble played a significant amount of smaller roles throughout and worked well as a company to create a solid and secure show that was thoroughly enjoyed by all who saw it.

Many congratulations. I look forward to your next offering.