It’s always a thrill to see a show at the Coliseum with its vast dome looking down on its smaller West End neighbours. With all 2359 seats filled and the foyer beautifully decorated with flower carts, press night for Bartlett Sher’s revival of My Fair Lady is buzzing with anticipation.

First produced on Broadway in 1956 by the team Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) My Fair Lady was made famous by the film version starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn; hard acts to follow for those of us who grew up with it. But Harry Hadden-Paton (Henry Higgins) and Amara Okereke (Eliza Doolittle) do not disappoint with fresh, convincing performances and quality vocals. Director, Bartlett Sher is clearly not afraid of interpreting classic Broadway Musicals having already established himself with ‘South Pacific’ and ‘The King and I’ in recent years. What is likely to delight most of the audience although frustrate some is that he stays surprisingly close to both the period and the heart of the original.

The ‘rags to riches’ tale of ‘My Fair Lady’ (based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion), tells the story of phonetics Professor Henry Higgins who takes flower girl Eliza Doolittle off the streets of London and gives himself sixth months to turn her into ‘a lady’. Cue heavy drilling of ‘the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plane…’ It’s an unusual show in the that there is almost no sub-plot, although many glorious characters including a subtle and charming performance by Malcolm Sinclair as Colonel Pickering. Hadden-Paton and Sinclair’s portrayal of an old school, gentlemen’s relationship is immaculately tuned, vibrating with the anxious certainty of the upper class.

Apart from the fabulous and hilarious scene at the races, it’s mostly a small-scale domestic drama which isn’t easy in such a vast space. With Michael Yergun’s slowly rotating set, and the upper classes taking every move at a snails pace, the simple linear narrative at times feels a little ponderous. Luckily the speed and wit of the lyrics from unforgettable songs such as ‘I could have danced all night’ and ‘With a little bit of luck’ usually manage to pick up the pace.

A Star turn from Vanessa Redgrave as Henry Higgins mother is a treat and the most noticeable contemporary interpretation comes at the very end when Eliza appears to walk away from Professor Higgins. It doesn’t read entirely clearly but we are left wondering whether Higgins really is better suited to a man at a time when it wasn’t’ safe for him to acknowledge that even to himself and if in fact ultimately Eliza has all the wisdom and certainly some of the power, as she walks away.