King's Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
05 March 2019 (released)
06 March 2019
“Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter, condemned by every syllable she utters…” Aaooowww! Who doesn’t know the delightful story of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, whose quite frankly appalling English is saved by phoneticist Professor Henry Higgins so that she may pass as a refined and sophisticated lady fit for London high society…
Judging from the high standard you’d never guess that this production of MY FAIR LADY is performed by Edinburgh’s oldest amateur operatic society! Yes you read that correctly, The Southern Light Opera Company (www.southernlightopera.co.uk) is an Amateur company! Cor blimey!
Shaw's PYGMALION is, of course, the original source material for this sizzling comedy of manners adapted by Lerner and Lowe in the early 50's. Here we have a young and dynamic Rebekah Lansley in the role of Eliza and by jove, she can sing! Rebekah does a fair old job with the 'diabolical fiendishness' that constitutes a Cockney accent, delivering the goods with a sharp élan in this corker of a part. She looks the right age and has a worthy but youngish (makes a pleasant change) Professor Higgins in John Bruce, who sings with a fine Baritone. On a par is Averyl Nash as the Professor’s upper crust mum Mrs. Higgins, who initially is somewhat suspicious of Miss Doolittle’s unusual etiquette (the scene at the Ascot horse race is simply hilarious!) when one of the polite small talk topics is the weather and Eliza matter-of-factly remarks: “The rain is Spain stays mainly in the plain.” Later on Mrs. Higgins congratulates Eliza for walking out on her son… who seems forever more concerned with speech patterns than matters of the heart.
The main characters are perfectly supported by Alan Hunter as Colonel Pickering, David Bartholomew as Eliza’s suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill, and Judith Walker as Professor Higgins Irish housekeeper Mrs. Pearce who exudes the amusing demeanour of Mrs. Doyle (housekeeper to ‘Father Ted’ in the popular Irish sitcom). Likewise, Keith Kilgore does a fair old job as Eliza’s father Alfred P. Doolittle (“I'm wantin' ter tell ya, I'm willin' ter, I'm waitin' ter ya”) and gives us a few nice dance steps to boot.
While we’re at it, a huge round of applause must go to choreographer Louise Williamson, perfectly matched by clever set designs and period costumes. This production boasts a cast of 82, to say nothing of the 23-piece orchestra. Of course, all the favourite tunes from ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely’ / ‘With a little bit of luck’ / ‘Just you wait’ / ‘I could have danced all night’ and many more are performed here too. Producer Andy Johnston and director Crawford Moyes are indeed to be congratulated. So if you want to see a top-notch production of a top-notch musical filled unforgettable numbers then get yer bloomin’ arse down to The King's!
MY FAIR LADY runs until Saturday 9th March (www.capitaltheatres.com)
(Photo by Ryan Buchanan)