For anyone who’s been living under a rock for the last forty or so years, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl who becomes the subject of an experiment in elocution. A chance meeting between the three main characters sees a wager made between expert in phonetics Henry Higgins (Peter Carruthers) and doddering ex-army man Colonel Hugh Pickering (Guy Unsworth) that Eliza (Melanie Birkhead) can be transformed from gutter girl to society lady in six months. Most, who haven’t seen the musical, will recognise the story from the film adaptation of 1964, starring Audrey Hepburn.
It was certainly ambitious of Musicality to take on a musical once deemed ‘One of the best musicals of the century’ by the NY Times, and the demands it has made on them, from managing a large cast to the elaborate and numerous scene changes, must of taken some doing. Despite this, they have managed to pull off a student performance which does not disappoint. The blatancy of the cast’s vocal talents shows, with highlights including the popular ‘On the Street Where You Live’ (Chris McDonald as Freddie Eynsford-Hill). One of the best scenes has to be the all singing, all jigging cockney rendition of ‘I’m Getting Married in the Morning’, with James Rowe’s fantastic depiction of Eliza’s drunken father Alfie.
While there were some faults to be gleaned from the show – the orchestra tended toward shrill at times, and occasionally overpowered the vocals, and the need for many different sets has lead to most being slightly bare – these points by no means overshadow the talent of the performers, and the obvious hard work from cast and crew alike. However, if long performances are not for you, beware; the show runs closer to three hours than to two – definitely use your intermission wisely!
My fair Lady is running at New Theatre from Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th of February, with an extra matinee performance 2.00pm Saturday.