Sunday, June 7, 2015

MY FAIR LADY


Book and Lyrics by: Alan Jay Lerner
Music by: Frederick Lowe

Directed by: Janet Tweedie
Musical Direction by: Jenna Hinton

Choreographed by: Belinda Hassall

Presented by: Queanbeyan Players
The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre until 13th June 2015

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Careful casting, a first class production team, and a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve, has allowed first time director, Janet Tweedie, to overcome relatively limited resources to achieve one of Queanbeyan Players best productions in recent years, and one which happily demonstrates why this beautifully crafted musical continues to enchant after nearly 60 years.

Tina Robinson and the male ensemble 

The story of the tussle between a penniless Covent Garden flower girl and a wealthy misogynist phoneticist, who wants to pass her off as a lady, still manages to weave its magic, due in no small part to the excellent performances of Gerard Ninnes as Henry Higgins, Peter Dark as his colleague, Colonel Pickering, and Tina Robinson as the flower girl, Eliza Doolittle. These three accomplished actor/singers inhabit their roles with flair, obviously relishing their opportunities to deliver carefully crafted performances which capture every nuance to reveal the brilliance of Lerner’s libretto.   


Tina Robinson with "My Fair Lady" ensemble 
Cast against type, Robert Grice is a spirited Alfred Doolittle, whether trying to inveigle Henry Higgins out of five quid, or leading the ensemble in the riotous “Get Me To The Church On Time”.  Micki Beckett charms as Mrs Higgins patiently accommodating her son’s outrageous excesses, and Charles Hudson, in fine voice as the gormless Freddy Eynsford Hill, ensures that “On the Street Where You Live” is the highlight it is meant to be. 

Gerard Ninnes ( Professor Higgins) Tina Robinson (Eliza Doolittle

 Excellent singing, supported by some very fine playing from the large, well-disciplined orchestra conducted by Jenna Hinton, is a feature of this production, with careful attention to the harmonies in the ensembles, particularly in “The Servants Chorus”.  The well-staged production numbers, with Belinda Hassall’s simple, appropriate choreography, are performed by the large ensemble with confidence and gusto. The “Ascot Gavotte” is particularly outstanding with lovely costumes, designed by Janetta McRae, and witty hats by Tina Robinson and Kerry Kemp.  

Peter Dark (Colonel Pickering) Tina Robinson (Eliza Doolittle)
As well as the brilliance of its songs and dialogue, “My Fair Lady” was also originally a visual spectacle. Thompson Quan Wing has devised a series of attractive set- pieces which cleverly hint at the spectacle, while serving  the storyline well. His study for Higgins is particularly effective.

But there are a lot of scene changes to be accomplished  in this show, and despite the herculean efforts of the back-stage crew, the first night running time of three hours and twenty minutes did test the stamina of the audience. However, judging from their response during the curtain-calls, not many would have missed a second of this truly impressive production.

 
Charles Hudson as Freddy Eynsford Hill 

                                                                   All photos by Rebecca Doyle
An edited version of this review was published in the Digital Edition of CITY NEWS on 6th June 2015

 

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