REVIEW: My Fair Lady, Irving Stage Company, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Friday.
There is one word to describe this production – and that is ‘loverly’.
From the opening notes of the overture to the emotional I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face, the fabulous cast hit the mark time after time.
Jeremy Warbrick (Henry Higgins) and Jess Hughes (Eliza Doolittle) excelled in their leading roles as the phonetics professor and East End flower seller. Warbrick was charismatic, confident, crisp and completely believable in a role which could have been written for him, while Hughes captured Eliza’s spirit (and every high note) perfectly and carried the audience along on her transformation into a society lady.
The supporting cast was also extremely strong, with Colin Musgrove bringing plenty of comedy to Eliza’s father Alfred P Doolittle, Stuart McLellan displaying great gravitas as Colonel Pickering, Craig Fisher playing a sweetly lovelorn Freddy and Elizabeth Holland a fantastically astute Mrs Pearce. But it was Julie Merrick – as Mrs Higgins – who shone, playing the role of the society snob who is charmed by young Eliza with great aplomb.
There were no weak links in the cast, with an ensemble spanning the decades. From children to seasoned performers in their 80s, all looked supremely comfortable on stage.
The musical played to packed houses all week. This audience member was seeing the show for the first time in many years. It was a wonderful reminder of the terrific wit of the script, although some of the jokes definitely originate from an era where equality was lacking, and the stunning score: Wouldn’t it be Loverly, With a Little Bit of Luck, Just You Wait, The Rain in Spain – I cried with joy when Eliza finally ‘got it’, I Could Have Danced all Night, On The street Where you Live . . . the memorable numbers kept on packing a punch (and that was just the first act).
Director and choreographer Sian Couture presented a stylish production, with the Ascot Gavotte understated, lavish and stunning all at once.
Musical director Nicola Brazier conducted a slick orchestra and coaxed some superb vocal performances from the cast.
Meanwhile, audiences were also treated to stunning sets and costumes.
I left the theatre so buzzing I could not get to sleep for hours. Bravo to all involved.