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Newbury Musical Theatre Society - My Fair Lady

12th to 15th April 2017

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.


Musical theatre society does Lerner and Loewe proud

Newbury Musical Theatre Society: My Fair Lady, at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Wednesday, April 12, to Saturday, April 15

The stage was dressed minimally for Newbury Musical Theatre Society's production of Lerner and Loewe's story, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and telling of the attempts of Professor Henry Higgins to transform Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady. He is set a challenge by his friend Colonel Pickering that he will be unable to do this within six months. Of course, he succeeds and the couple fall in love in the process.

The reason for the minimal scenery became clear when in the chorus numbers the stage became full of well-rehearsed, joyous movement, whirling skirts and nifty footwork. This was especially so in I'm Getting Married in the Morning, led by Jaz Wilson, giving an excellent sparky performance as the reluctant bridegroom, Alfred Doolittle. A few words were lost, though perhaps this was more to do with the microphone than Jaz, in his other big number With a Little Bit of Luck, but it was equally lively and enjoyable, helped by Martin Rogers and Jake Mawson as Alf's mates Harry and Jamie.

Inevitably, the stage was a bit bare for the scenes in Higgins' study, but this gave Tom Hazelden, as the pedantic professor, lots of room to pace about venting his fury on poor Eliza (Paige Mackay) as she struggled with vowels and Colonel Pickering (a good performance from Paul Strickland) looked on.

Tom and Paige were ideal as the ill-matched couple, both having the acting ability and the quality of singing to bring out the fury, the humour and pathos Loewe's songs demand.

As well as the vivacious chorus – how good to see children taking part – the pair were backed by a strong team in smaller roles. Freddy Eynsford Hill is often played as a foolish young man, but Pete Warbis went several steps farther and very entertaining it was – what's more the man can sing superbly. Musical director Jon Brooks and his musicians, tucked into a corner of the stage, were with the actors every step of the way, playing to every mood and bringing the show to life. Congratulations must also go to choreographer Nikki Rogers and her dancers for making the chorus numbers so enjoyable and whoever was responsible for the costumes deserves praise too.

Director Tony Randall and producer Justine Fry must be very proud of their team.