Saturday, 30 July 2005

My Fair Lady, July 30, 2005

My Fair Lady 
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Frederick Loewe
Produced by ACT Inc & Arts Events Management
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, July 30 to August 13, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 30, 2005

The wit of Alan Lerner's lyrics and dialogue combined with the singability of Frederick Loewe's tunes make My Fair Lady an eternal favourite in the musical theatre repertoire.

The show boasts a list of major hits and memorable songs: With a Little Bit of Luck, Wouldn't it Be Loverly, On the Street Where You Live, I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face.

The audience relishes Higgins sing-speaking Why Can't the English? and his musings on why women can't be more like men in Hymn to Him.

This small-scale production, directed by Darien Sticklen, (OK) is by no means the consummate version of the musical, but it has its successes.

Alan Fletcher is a powerful presence as the redoubtable linguistics expert, Henry Higgins. He delivers both songs and dialogue with great conviction and excellent comic timing.

Laura Fitzpatrick, playing Eliza Doolittle, has charm and a sweet singing voice but does not fully embody the transformation of Eliza from urchin to sophisticate.

She sounds too middle class for the rough cockney in the opening scenes and does not achieve the glamour, sophistication or accent required for her to be mistaken for a princess in the later scenes.

Roger Oakley is a fine foil to Fletcher as Higgins' bluff offsider, Colonel Pickering and Babs McMillan is delightfully wry as Higgins matronly mother.

Apart from these performances, the production feels a little amateurish and unfinished.

Marty Fields is a funny performer but he completely misses the robust cheekiness of Alfie Doolittle, Eliza's carousing, ne'er do-well, Cockney father.

Chris Durling looks right for the part of Freddy Eynsford-Hall, the young man besotted with Eliza. However his acting lacks credibility and, although he has a clear tenor voice, he hit a few bad notes on opening night.

The ensemble sang competently and the dance routines, choreographed by Joanne Adderley, performed a few lively routines especially the Cockney dance to Get Me To The Church On Time.

The audience loved Higgins teaching Eliza to speak "proper". Her linguistic success prompted applause after The Rain in Spain.

Another high point is the Ascot Gavotte. The formality and posing of the wealthy race goers and their rigid restraint at the races is a comical contrast to Eliza's excitable cries to the horse, "Come on Dover, move your bloomin' arse."

You will enjoy this show if you love My Fair Lady but do not expect the definitive production.

By Kate Herbert