Review: My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal

It was in the intimate splendour of the Theatre Royal in Bath that Bath Time was invited to attend the flawless premiere of Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s My Fair Lady. The masterful work of award-winning director Tristan Carter, skilled choreographers and an extremely talented cast and band makes this production a must-watch.

This is the story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller who comes across Professor Henry Higgins and his friend Colonel Pickering in Covent Garden. When Higgins remarks that he could train her to speak like a countess in under six months, Pickering challenges him to do so. Although difficult and frustrating for both Eliza and Higgins at first, the lessons begin to work wonders, and Eliza soon masters the ways of the elite.

Based on Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion, Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady broke all box office records in London and New York where it was the winner of a 1957 Tony Award for Best New Musical. The 1964 film version, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, was nominated for twelve Oscars, winning eight, and remains a classic to this day.

It was a pleasant surprise to see how close the play was to the Audrey Hepburn interpretation, having developed similar costumes and sets. In one scene, that takes place at Ascot, the skilful design of the ladies’ dresses and hats propelled us into the soft critique of the Edwardian élite. The performance had something unique and uplifting. The songs spun us into suspension of disbelief and the décor changed spontaneously with ten different backgrounds, accelerating the pace of the play and keeping us engrossed in the action. In addition, the space on the small stage was used beautifully, for example with one of the scenes featuring the characters lined up the staircase in Henry Higgins’ plush library. The merry tunes, including all-time favourites like I Could Have Danced All Night and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, strongly appealed to spectators’ emotions, and were enhanced by enchanting choreography. My Fair Lady also features a professional orchestra which complemented the play perfectly.

Lastly, the performance has hilarious scenes around Eliza’s attempts at exhibiting her Cockney accent and trying to blend in at Ascot, which was conveyed perfectly by the actress Madeleine Woolgar.

You have until this Saturday, February 24th to go see this brilliant musical. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk. The running time is 2h55 minutes with an interval.

Performances:  Evenings:  Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm

Matinees:  Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets: £15 – £33 with concessions available

(Booking fee applies)

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