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My Fair Lady

“Resourceful and imaginative”

Encouraged by the reception of High Society last year, the same creative team has returned to the Mill at Sonning, with Lerner and Loewe’s 1956 classic My Fair Lady.

It’s a show that comes with a vast amount of baggage, not least the memorable performances from Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the original stage production, the MGM movie that followed, and the award-winning design by Cecil Beaton that featured in both.

Joseph Pitcher’s production may owe a debt to all of these as well as the National’s 2001 production but his use of both limited space and means is exemplary.

The intimacy of the Mill’s stage allows Pitcher to draw the audience deeper into Eliza Doolittle’s world. The sense of poverty and desperation is magnified. The social division that’s such a major theme of both Shaw’s original play and Lerner’s adaptation is made to seem greater and more resonant.

The interplay between Bethan Nash’s tenacious flower girl Eliza and Martin Fisher’s clinically detached phonetics professor Henry Higgins is also amplified. Famously the show offers no cut-and-dried resolution to their co-dependency but here, even after nearly three hours, you crave an epilogue. Charlie Ingles’ inventive orchestrations adapt the rich score to suit a five-piece band and the cast of only 12 double – and occasionally treble – seamlessly.

Michael Holt’s elegant design hints at Covent Garden’s ironwork tracery but otherwise keeps the stage clear, allowing space for Pitcher’s consistently inventive choreography. There are a few issues with sound quality but they are a trifle in what otherwise is a masterclass in paring down a major musical for a small stage.

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Production Details
Production nameMy Fair Lady
VenueMill at Sonning
StartsNovember 23, 2017
EndsJanuary 27, 2018
Running time2hrs 40mins
ComposerFrederick Loewe
Book writerAlan Jay Lerner
DirectorJoseph Pitcher
Musical directorJoe Bunker
ChoreographerJoseph Pitcher
Set designerMichael Holt
Costume designerNatalie Titchener
Lighting designerMatthew Biss
Sound designerJoe Morris
CastAlex Hammond, Bethan Nash, Eric Carte, Martin Fisher, Phil Snowden, Susan Kyd
Production managerJoan Farnese
Stage managerCarole Brown, Emilie Leger, James Neal
ProducerMill at Sonning
VerdictResourceful and imaginative pared-down version of Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway classic
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Paul Vale

Paul Vale

Paul Vale

Paul Vale

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