I’ve come across a fair few ‘My Fair Lady’s’ in my time, but this one (from Tip Top Productions at Theatre Clwyd until 8th Sep) truly surpassed. It’s JOYOUS…absolutely…and no exaggeration to say I enjoyed every minute. I’m sure that goes for those elsewhere in the theatre too: the clapping, the whoops of delight, the standing ovation at the finale, said it all.
Phil Cross, as Director and Simon Phillips, Musical Director, have conjured up a magical evening from start to finish, producing a stylish and colourful interpretation of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner’s ‘My Fair Lady’. The story was originally based on George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ and ‘My Fair Lady’ was one of Shaw’s considered titles for ‘Pygmalion’.
In a packed theatre, we took our seats as intriguing cockney characters wove across the stage against a suitably contemporary set, skilfully designed by Sarah Oxley. The orchestra struck up, spiriting us away to the streets of London, where we met the talented principal characters and the lively ensemble, who sang and danced and never put a foot wrong!
Hannah Thomas captivated us as Eliza, the feisty cockney flower girl with the spell binding voice, and Mark Shenton played a superbly determined Professor Higgins, while delivering fabulously dry lines such as calling Eliza a, “bilious pigeon” and demanding she should be taken away at once and “thoroughly cleaned”. Observing all this was Bill Roberson (Colonel Pickering), the Professor’s friend and newspaper reading houseguest, who also mimicked a raging Spanish bull for a few hilarious minutes. This you should see!
Other characters charmed and amused in plenty, particularly Robert Lyon (Freddy Eynsford Hill) with his rendering of “On The Street Where You Live”, also Rob Tolefree (Alfred Doolittle) with Finn Herbert (Harry), Robin Crowley (Jamie), plus the entire ensemble, performing “With A Little Bit Of Luck” with great gusto. I also particularly enjoyed “The Servants Chorus” with Fiona Macsween (the equable Mrs Pearce) and the Ascot scenes were stunning…with the cast elegantly clad in black and white (costumes provided by Molly Limpet’s). Hilary Wiseman (Mrs Higgins) was the perfect exasperated mother to Henry, Jo Lloyd (Mrs Eynsford Hill) as Freddy’s genteel mother, Pat Pearce (Queen of Transylvania) wowed us with her dignity and the maids (Laura Roberts and Heather Bunning) joined Eliza and Mrs Pearce in a memorable version of “I Could Have Danced All Night”.
I could go on. Good to hear these classic songs again; they’re as uplifting as ever because, quite frankly, they really don’t date. They’re timeless, as is the story itself. This was a superb show and TipTop, celebrating their 30th Anniversary, must be so proud of Phil’s perceptive direction and their spirited cast and talented team.
We’re lucky to have this thriving community theatre in Cheste and it would be a very good plan indeed to catch their “My Fair Lady” this week.
Tickets on sale from Wed 5th until Sat 7th, including Saturday matinee from www.chestertheatre.co.uk
Cover image courtesy of Theatr Clwyd and cast image courtesy of Jeff Price Photography.