Operatic society's touch of class packs the house
'MY FAIR LADY', performed by Newbury Operatic Society, at The Corn
Exchange, from Tuesday, April 17 to Saturday, April 21
Full houses at the Corn Exchange proved just how popular Frederick Loewe and Alan jay Lerner's reworking of the 'Pygmalion' classic still remains. Although never quite sure whether it's a play that thinks it's a musical, or vice versa, the story of a flower seller taken from the gutter and coached until she can be passed off as a duchess, is well known to us all.
The cast were impressive on the first night, with hardly a hiccup. Director and choreographer Jeanette Maskell made the utmost of the resources available to her.
There were strong principal performances, well-rehearsed musical numbers that were within the capabilities of the cast and effective groupings.
Charlotte Johnson as Eliza Doolittle proved to be in excellent all-rounder. A strong voice and good presence and movement meant the central role was in good hands. It was a delightful and impressive debut.
Iain Whittaker as Professor Higgins, used his experience to tackle his
very difficult role with immaculate confidence and flair, and likewise Roger Sinclair as Colonel Pickering.
Chris Austin as Freddie Eynsford-Hill gave a strong performance, and Tony Randall as Eliza's father Alfred P. Doolittle provided a suitably robust contrast to the cultured classes.
Sylvia Galbraith was perfectly cast as Mrs Pearce, Henry Higgins' long suffering housekeeper, while Anne Bennett as Mrs Higgins added a real touch of class and Shirley Seymour as Mrs
Eynsford-Hill injected great comedy into her cameo role.
Newbury Operatic's production did not skimp on any front. It was easy on the eye, with many attractive sets and lovely costumes, all
The first-class orchestra under the baton of Tony Wythe sensitively accompanied the singers, and the many scene changes were slick and silent. Given the constraints of The Corn Exchange stage it was a considerable achievement.
Some of the dialogue, for this member of the audience at least, over-gilded the lily and this, coupled with at least one-too-many reprises of "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" slowed the action.
This is a criticism of the script however, and not the production, which was of high standard and gave superb value.