Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady has played to critical acclaim through the years, originally opening in 1956 it became the longest running musical on Broadway at that time. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture, Pygmalion, it follows the story of one Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl who finds herself taking speech lessons from phoneticist Henry Higgins. Merely starting out as the focus of a bet between Higgins and fellow phoneticist Colonel Hugh Pickering, she embarks on a remarkable transformation.
Although the plot is a little dated, Knowle Musical Society (KMS) executed pleasant performances, with some particularly glorious moments. The anticipated, and perhaps most iconic scene from this show takes place at the Ascot, and KMS certainly delivered. With striking costumes (Sue Johnson), the Ascot Gavotte was a delight, with crisp vocals from all involved.
In terms of the principal cast, the genial Colonel Pickering was played exceedingly well by Steve Hayes, with some comically camp undertones. Whilst Keith Parish wonderfully captured the ever-so paradoxical Henry Higgins. There’s solid support from Simon Chinery as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Tim Gibbs makes for a cheeky Alfred Doolittle, and there's a great little cameo from Stephanie Harris as Mrs Higgins.
However, leading the way in the title role was Sophia Bailey. She simply sparkled as Eliza Doolittle, from mannerisms to voice she nailed the characterisation and stole many a laugh from the audience. And it’s not an easy sing either, yet her voice soared in each number.
Unfortunately, due to “snowmageddon” at the weekend it prevented the group from holding their band call, which really was a shame as there were some moments where the band felt a little under prepared. And, of course, there were some minor first night teething problems, but these are to be expected. Although it does run at just under 3 hours at the moment, I’m sure the pace will pick up as the run continues.
That said, despite the obstacles the group have had to overcome in only the last few days, KMS joined together (both cast, crew and production team) and delivered a show that the packed out audience at The Core Theatre certainly enjoyed.
My Fair Lady plays to sell-out audiences at The Core Theatre, Solihull until 10 March.
Director: Dani Godwin
MD: Chris Davis
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