We had a bloomin’ loverly time!
For the second show in our 60th anniversary year, Irving presented Lerner and Loewe’s legendary musical My Fair Lady. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s sparkling comedy Pygmalion, it tells the story of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, and her transformation into a beautiful society woman at the hands of phonetics expert Professor Henry Higgins.
The score includes some of the best-known songs of all time – I Could Have Danced all Night; The Rain in Spain, Wouldn’t it be Loverly?, Get Me to the Church on Time, With a Little Bit of Luck On the Street Where You Live and I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.
My Fair Lady opened on Broadway in 1956 with Rex Harrison as Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza; who reprised their roles in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1958 – the show ran for five and a half years.
George Cukor directed the Oscar-winning film version in 1964, with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza.
Here is a lovely review from TheatreWorld:
Well in the style of Eliza Doolittle herself ‘ there ain’t much wrong with this show’ as the Irving Stage Company’s production of ‘’My Fair Lady’ was spot on.
The show has been around since 1956 when the musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s play ‘Pygmalion’ was created into the huge hit of ‘My Fair Lady’. To be fair the show had passed me by despite many years of reviewing, but that did not detract from the sheer enjoyment of this vibrant and exciting musical. Although the running time is three and quarter hours, there is so much going on that you will not be bored.
The main casting is beautifully formed with Jess Hughes as Eliza and Jeremy Warbrick as Henry who developed a hate love relationship (in that order!). Both demonstrated their phenomenal acting and singing prowess, and at the end it was clearly an emotional moment for them both as they gave their all.
Also topping the bill was the incorrigible rogue of Alfred played by Colin Musgrove and the stalwart Colonel dutifully portrayed by Stuart McLellan. The bizarre Zoltan (Ashley Seaborne) was also a hit with the audience with his comical eccentric behaviour. Stage presence and the chemistry between all these actors was marvellous.
The songs are so well known and seeing them in context was great. The sound system was excellent tonight and the clarity of the individual singers was something which Henry a phonetics expert would have approved! You shared in the joy of Eliza ‘cracking’ the elocution code with her thrilling rendition of ‘The Rain in Spain’.
Political correctness may have been out the window bearing in mind when it was written, but there would be no reason for offence as the humour was the catalyst. Colourful songs including ‘I’m an ordinary man’ and ‘A Hymn to Him’ sung by Higgins demonstrated his confirmed bachelorhood and complete ignorance that any female influence could be positive are examples which proved the point.
The set is large and changes generally were smooth. The choreography worked a treat and was exhilarating especially with the added bonus of the orchestra secreted away in the pit.
This was an excellent production which the cast seemed to enjoy as much as the packed house.
Review by Robert Wright