Last night I accompanied my wife, Judith, to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to enjoy her Christmas present: tickets to see Daniel Evans' production of 'My Fair Lady'. And what an evening we enjoyed!
The house was packed out - as I believe it has been throughout the show's run so far - and we were treated to a spectacular performance of song, dance and story to rival the West End. The sets, particularly Higgins' study, were very good, and used the unique space at the Crucible very well. The music, performed live under the stage under the splendid direction of Nigel Lilley, set the mood brilliantly and helped the story along at just the right pace. The cast were all excellent, performing with energy and enthusiasm throughout their 2½ hours on stage, but especial mention must go Louis Maskell as Freddy, Martyn Ellis as Alfred P Doolittle, and of course the the two principals: Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle and Dominic West as Henry Higgins.
One of the problems with a show like My Fair Lady is that the songs - such as 'The Rain in Spain', 'I Could Have Danced All Night', 'On The Street Where You Live' & 'Get Me To The Church On Time' - are all very well-known, and cinema has given us what many consider the definitive portrayal of the story from Rex Harrison & Audrey Hepburn. West echoed Harrison's 'talk singing' here, but managed sing as well, and has a reasonable singing voice himself. Bawden made the transition from Cockney flower girl to society lady wonderfully and I think she has a great future in this field. The cast's performance of 'Get Me To The Church On Time' left them and the audience breathless, and by the end of the night the majority of the crowd were on their feet applauding an outstanding, energetic and moving performance.
If there is any justice, this should be an award-winning show. If you can - and it may not be easy - get a ticket, sit back and enjoy a spectacular evening's entertainment!