The place is London, the time is 1913…’ and Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl is taken on as a challenge and project by Professor Henry Higgins. Based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Fair Lady tells a tale of the transformation of Eliza from a street girl to a lady through music and dance.
The beautiful setting of The London Coliseum together with the English National Orchestra is a promise in itself of quality performance and this production doesn’t disappoint.
It’s a real thrill as a regular theatre-goer to see more and more black actors cast in lead roles and it was a pleasure to see a black Eliza (Amara Okereke) just as loud, gobby and cockney as they come become refined and ladylike with a voice almost operatic. An even better surprise was Stephen K Amos who plays her alky father, Alfred. I know him well for his comedy, but singing and dancing? Who knew? His comedic skill in his rendition of “Get me to the church on time” was hilarious fun.
My guest and I were scrambling to remember some songs from the film we watched a good few times growing up and came up with just two… And then found ourselves giggling and somehow singing along with the classic score “Wouldn’t it be loverly” “The Rain in Spain” “I could have danced all night” -most of them, long-forgotten cobwebbed lyrics dusted off and finding themselves in our mouths.
This play is elegant and lavish. From the sets to the costumes to the cameo by Dame Vanessa Redgrave. All in all an amazing show with – not quite the ending you remember from the film, but the first to really signify that post-pandemic, Theatreland is back with a vengeance.