My Fair Lady

 

CAST LIST

PRODUCTION TEAM

               
Eliza Doolittle Jacky Davis Freddy Eynsford-Hill Rick Thompsett Mrs Eynsford-Hill Margaret Catton Director Will Harris
Professor Higgins Norman Grinsteed Mrs Pearce Laurie Bright Harry Harry Benjamin Musical Director Brian Steel
Colonel Pickering Brian Turner Mrs Higgins Barbara E Windsor Jamie Mick Thompsett Choreographer Valerie Brooham
Alfred P Doolittle Tony Wall Zoltan Karpathy Brian Minchin Mrs Hopkins Rosemary Minchin Costumes Jane Purkiss

 

Surrey Advertiser

Donald Madgwick

 

The names of composer Frederick Loewe and librettist Alan Jay Lerner probably meant little of nothing to GBS, yet between them they gave his most popular comedy a massive new lease of life beyond his wildest dream.

Will Harris's production for Wallington Operatic is a glittering success in nearly all departments, if we can accepts it over-sentimental view of the ending, which detracts from the ambiguity which should be its essence.

Heading a strong cast are Norman Grinsteed as Professor Higgins and Jacky Davis as Eliza Doolittle, with excellent back-up by Brian Turner, an unusually Blimpish Pickering, and Tony Wall as the irrepressible dustman Alfred Doolittle.

I fancied I detected a breeze of the South Coast about the good Professor's own vowels, but he a magnificently rude opponent for the sparky Eliza, who really comes into her own in her first, splendidly comic, meeting at Ascot with Barbara E. Windsor's somewhat Bracknellish Mrs Higgins. And speaking of Ascot, a special word of praise must go to Jane Purkiss for the truly stunning costumes.

This Higgins and this Pickering are a well-matched pair of crusty bachelors whose shared domestic arrangements would, in today's world, cause more than a few tongues to wag. There was real venom in the former's Let a woman in your life.

A world away in social terms is the lovable dustman, whose first confrontation with the pair, in which he even dispenses with the traditional bronchial affliction, could hardly be bettered.

Valerie Brooham's choreography makes an empathic contribution

 

 

NODA

Theo Spring 

 

I saw the original Drury Lane production with Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway. I have been back, twice, to see the current production. I know the lyrics backwards and quite a bit of dialogue. So how did you shape up?

I just loved it. You produced a really brilliant show and should be eminently proud of yourselves.

Meeting Jane Purkiss in the interval was a great stoke of luck for me. So good were the costumes, right from curtain up, that I imagined a great many of them had been hired. I am more than pleased to have found out that I was wrong and that those beautiful gowns, and the millinery were her creation with, no doubt, more than a little help from Barbara Windsor and Yvonne Mount. This is a production where the costumes are of major importance - particularly in the Ascot Gavotte, and nothing but elegance style and grace will do.

A keen chorus with good voices and constant interaction when needed provided the perfect backdrop for Covent Garden and the pub, yet they could turn inscrutable when needed as, without a drop of emotion, they experienced that 'frenzied moment' at Ascot.

I particularly compliment the harmony for Wouldn't It Be Loverly and the knock-about choreography for With A Little Bit of Luck.

The principle roles were in excellent hands too. Norman Grinsteed made excellent work of 'Enry 'Iggins - childish, pig-headed, irascible, dedicated to his art and endearing as he began to realise the affection in which he held Eliza - even though he would never admit it, of course. His musical pace, even when speaking the words rather than singing them, was right on cue and he carried the weight of the part in splendid style.

As his partner on crime, Brian Turner's Pickering blustered beautifully as the Colonel with the crusty outside and the really soft centre. Pickering is a tricky part to come to terms with. He is always in Higgins' shadow, does not have one single number of his own to show his vocal prowess, but he is an important part of the trio around whom musical pivots.

Which brings me to Eliza and Jacky Davis. Some of her Covent Garden moves struck a slightly skittish note, making her more giggly and girlish that I imagine, but she soon got into her stride and didn't look back once, taking the move from cockney 'sparra' to that splendid ball, seamlessly.

Higgins spends the first number telling us 'as soon as he speaks, he makes some other Englishman despise him', but in this case, as soon as Eliza opened her mouth to sing, she was a joy to the ear on every note and I can't fault her interpretation on any of her numbers. 'Loverly' was wistful and dreamy, 'Just You Wait' suitably vindictive although a little breathy from jumping on the chaise longue, 'I Could Have Danced' just like a child would cannot sleep on Christmas Eve and 'Show Me' spat out the pent up emotion of holding herself in check through all those tedious lessons.

More good vocals came from Ricky Thompsett as Freddy with his showcase number On The Street Where You Live and although there was a little imagination needed to envisage him as an ardent young blade, he brought out the hooray henryness of the character, whilst leaving him with some charm.

Alfred P Doolittle is a gift of a part and Tony Wall grabbed the gift both hands and made a real present of it to the audience. Totally convincing with a good voice, good movement and an excellent accent - what more could we ask. It did not surprise me to read in the programme notes of his 12-year stint as a professional actor.

Mrs Higgins kept a perfect Edwardian cool whilst just a little pride in Henry's capabilities was allowed to seep through. Barbara E Windsor gave her elegance and Alan Jay Lerner gave her forthright speech.

I'm not sure that I truly liked the colour of Mrs Pearce's wig - it was a bit of a surprise, but I certainly enjoyed Laurie Brights' interpretation of the housekeeper with more than her share of patience in the face of such an employer

Add these major principle roles, the characters built up by Jamie, Harry, Mrs Hopkins, the Higgins servants and 'that blackguard who uses the science of speech more to blackmail and swindle, than teach' - Zoltan Karpathy and you have a real winner of a show.

Costumes have already had high praise from me, but the choreography from Valerie Brooham showed it off. Movement was never intrusive but always an integral part of the whole number  - some excellent dance in the chorus kept things lively.

The music in My Fair Lady is so well known that an orchestra for this show is responsible to its audience for keeping tempos as they should be and all notes in the right places. Brian Steel kept the musical magic of the show intact.

And so to Will Harris who had worked s very hard to make this show a success as WODS lead into their centenary. Directing such a show demands a good team, which he had, good actors, singers, dances and backstage crew, all of which he had. But he also has a director's magic touch and this is sprinkled liberally on the show to make it the huge success that it was.

Well done to absolutely everyone who was involved.