My Fair Lady

"This Lerner and Loewe production really does tick all the boxes for me"

The Lincoln Center Theater Production of My Fair Lady has already wowed audiences in London, with its residency last year at The London Coliseum. Now nearly at the end of its UK tour, it is still having the same effect.  I am a real sucker for classic, old-school musicals and this Lerner and Loewe production really does tick all the boxes for me.

As My Fair Lady has been around since the 1960’s courtesy of the film starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, it’s fair to say that most of you will know the story of the Cockney working-class flower seller who is transformed into a cultured member of high society with the help of Professor Henry Higgins.  I first want to talk about the incredible performer, Rebekah Lowings, an understudy to the role of Eliza who is very much at the top of her game.  To see the transformation before our very eyes of the rather brash, opinionated and down to earth Eliza, to the very well spoken, confident young lady was mesmerising from start to finish.  Lowings captures the very essence of Eliza, with a wonderful singing voice bringing us such highlights as ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly’, ‘Just You Wait’ and ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’.

Playing alongside Lowings, is Michael D. Xavier as the rather obnoxious and condescending Professor Henry Higgins.  Again, another top-class performance from Xavier who uses his wealth of theatrical experience to elevate the Professor, and you can’t help but love him!  Xavier has incredible stage presence and certainly stole many scenes with his slightly comical portrayal of Higgins.  Couple that with the most wonderful voice, he is perfectly cast in my humble opinion and if you need to see one of the best examples of acting through song, then just sit and watch Xavier performing ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’, perfection!

Higgins’ side kick Colonel Pickering played by John Middleton, who may well be best known as Ashley Thomas from Emmerdale, also provides a polished performance.  There is fabulous chemistry between the two throughout their time together on stage. Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle is played by Adam Woodyatt, better known as Ian Beale from Eastenders, so clearly the perfect person to be playing a real life Eastender!  Woodyatt provides wonderful energy and I especially enjoyed ‘Get Me To The Church on Time’, a full ensemble routine with incredible choreography by Christopher Gattelli that really captures the moment of a raucous night out.

Lesley Garrett plays Mrs Pearce magnificently; however, I would have loved to hear more of her voice, knowing what an incredible vocalist she is.  She played Mrs Pearce with a comical nuance, but really showed the professional she is after mistakenly spilling a cup of tea down her costume, but just carried on regardless adding a little look to the audience which did raise a laugh.

The set, by Michael Yeargan is at times minimal, however the inside the Professor Higgins palatial house is a vision, with every small detail included to really capture the wealthy life he leads.  The costumes by Catherine Zuber steal the show though, especially during the Ascot scene.  A blend of greys, pinks and blacks, each costume is completely individual and again provides the idea of extreme wealth within the high society crowd.  Again, at the Embassy Ball the costumes were exquisite and your eyes were flitting back and forth across the stage to capture it all.

Under the Musical Direction of Alex Parker, the orchestra set the bar for me as how to deliver such a beautiful score.  Many of the Lerner and Loewe songs are so well known and the orchestra provides such a gorgeous sound that you feel completely ingulfed in the music in the most wonderful way.  Give me a big orchestra any day!

So let’s get on with the puns……….wouldn’t it be loverly to see My Fair Lady as it visits Birmingham, and with a little bit of luck you will get to the theatre on time! Ok, enough of the silliness, just grab yourself a ticket while you can to see this incredible show.

This show was reviewed on the 8th March 2023.  My Fair Lady runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 19th March 2023.  Tickets available here: My Fair Lady – Birmingham Hippodrome

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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