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KATS - My Fair Lady

27th to 30th October 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

By George they've got it

Four magnificent leads and a star chorus... luverly

KATS: My Fair Lady, at the Corn Exchange, from Wednesday, October 27 to Saturday, October 30

To succeed with this musical, a society needs four good performers in the principal parts to ensure that the show zips along, for there are long patches of dialogue in between larky chorus numbers.

KATS had no problems and Claire Bowden (Eliza D), David Richardson (Higgins), Nick Saunders (Colonel Pickering) and Mike Cole (Alfred Doolittle/co-producer with Jon Lovell) were not merely good, but magnificent.

The chorus also deserve a star, joyously providing Cockney background action and entering into the dance numbers with verve, precision and attack, a credit to choreographer Claire Bowden. That old beef that reviewers have about the chorus not smiling and reacting has no place here. They were having fun, and it was infectious.

Claire Bowden's warmly melodic voice brought out the dynamics in everything she sang, both as the feisty flowergirl and the elegant product of Higgins' teaching, her acting matching the music.

David Richardson's interpretation of the professor was spot on and, like Claire, he had the right voice for the part; the scene with Nick Saunders when Eliza finally gets the hang of those tricky vowels was a joy.

Backed up by his mates, Jamie (David Scanlan) and Harry (Paul Strickland) - both first-rate actor/singers - Mike Cole gave an impeccable performance as Doolittle, lighting up the stage in those two energetically demanding chorus numbers which are a gift to an actor of his calibre. My only niggle is that he was the cleanest dustman I have ever seen.

The role of Freddy Eynsford-Hill is not an easy one, though he does have the glorious On the Street Where You Live to sing. Jon Lovell made the best of it, although his rich baritone voice was over-miked first time around.

Wisely, KATS had a reduced orchestra of eight, under the guidance of musical director and keyboard player Elizabeth Collins, thus overcoming the problem of music drowning performers. Sympathetic and bright and brash by turns, the orchestra accompanied the action entirely adequately for this production.

There were many young faces - in the orchestra, in the cast and in the audience, where they by far outnumbered us oldies. This bodes very well for the society who, under the direction of Andy Pocock, produced a sparkling 'luverly' entertainment for which everyone involved deserves much credit.