My Fair Lady
21/09/2023 - 30/09/2023
Based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe.
Director: Stephen Robertson
Musical Director: Richard Marrett
Choreographer: Glen Harris
Showbiz Christchurch : www.showbiz.org.nz
My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.
A Cinderella story about the Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and the appealingly arrogant phoneticist, Professor Higgins, it is an endearing tale that charms audiences with its warmth and vivid characters. The clash of cultures sparks some of the theatre’s most jubilant songs and witty dialogue.
The triumphant score features unforgettable numbers including ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?’, ‘On the Street Where You Live’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’, and ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’.
The musical’s 1956 Broadway production was a notable critical and popular success. It set a record for the longest run of any show on Broadway up to that time.
When My Fair Lady was first performed in Christchurch in 1962, it set the all-time record at the Theatre Royal for attendance, running for an extraordinary 171 performances, to an audience of 200,000 patrons.
The show has recently enjoyed enormous success with sold-out revival seasons on Broadway, in Sydney and Melbourne. Showbiz Christchurch is delighted to bring a stunning new production of this much-loved classic back to Christchurch audiences.
My Fair Lady will be staged at the Isaac Theatre Royal from the 21st-30th of September 2023 and will feature the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Performances daily at 7.30pm (No performance Monday);
Matinees on Saturdays at 2pm and Sunday at 4pm (no evening performance this day).
Book Ticketek: https://premier.ticketek.co.nz/shows/show.aspx?sh=FAIRLADY23
Showbiz Website Info page: https://www.showbiz.org.nz/my-fair-lady/
Prices from $65-$139.50 plus booking fees.
Set Design: Harold Moot
Lighting Design: Grant Robertson
Sound Design: Ben Rentoul (Bounce NZ)
Props Design: Christy Lassen (Little Red Hen Co)
Eliza Doolittle Emily Burns
Eliza Doolittle (Alternate) Laurel Gregory
Henry Higgins Michael Lee Porter
Colonel Pickering Warwick Shillito
Freddy Eynsford-Hill Cameron Melville
Alfred P. Doolittle John Clarke
Harry Chris Goodyear
Queen of Transylvania Sarah Buchanan
Mrs Higgins Angela Johnson
Mrs Eynsford-Hill Rebecca Boyce
Prof Zoltan Karpathy Nathan Munn
Mrs Pearce Libby Fraser
Jamie Jake McKay
Leon Vant Veen Gibbon
Musical , Theatre ,
3 hours incl 20 min intermission
A recommended evening out for classic musical theatre fans of all ages.
Review by Lauren Douglas 23rd Sep 2023
After facing postponement from April 2020, Showbiz Christchurch’s production of My Fair Lady was worth the wait.
Opening night and the Isaac Theatre Royal is buzzing; it’s a suitably grand venue to host the Lerner and Loewe’s classic. The scene is set before a word is even spoken; the notes of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra fill the theatre as the cast emerge to set the scene.
My Fair Lady tells the story of young cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and Professor Henry Higgins’ bet that he can teach her to speak like a “proper English lady” in just six months.
Many audience members are familiar with the story from the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, the 1964 film starring Audrey Hepburn, or the Theatre Royal record-breaking run of 171 performances in 1962. While I was vaguely familiar with the story and some songs, I am more a fan of modern musicals, so I was interested to see how My Fair Lady would hold up in 2023.
It’s fair to say, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s hard to go wrong with the iconic musical theatre duo of Director Stephen Robertson and Musical Director Richard Marrett. With the support of an expert team of designers and talented cast, My Fair Lady is a spectacular evening at the theatre.
Leading the cast as Eliza, Emily Burns is phenomenal. Burns commands the stage, her cockney laughter is infectious and voice flawless. The final note in “I Could Have Danced All Night” – just, wow! Having seen Laurel Gregory in Next to Normal (The Court Theatre) earlier this year, I can imagine she is equally brilliant in the role.
Michael Lee Porter is the perfect Henry Higgins; he doesn’t skip a beat, with impeccable diction in some very wordy songs. It’s a treat for Christchurch audiences to see Porter on stage, returning home from his base in Australia.
The supporting cast holds their own, with highlights including Warwick Shillito as Colonel Pickering, Cameron Melville as the lovestruck Freddy Enysford-Hill and Angela Johnson as the sassy crowd-favourite Mrs Higgins.
The ensemble gives a strong performance, seamlessly juggling quick changes from flower girls and the pub crowd to Higgins’ household staff to ball guests. A special mention to stand-out dancer Lennox Dunn for his performance in “Get Me To The Church On Time”.
Glen Harris’ choreography supports the feeling of being transported to 1912 and I enjoy references to other musicals such as the dancing chimney sweeps a la Mary Poppins and a nod to That Bloody Woman with the glimpse of some suffragettes. The waltz at the ball is a little messy, perhaps overcrowded given the space available.
The costumes, hats and wigs are glorious, especially the lavish lilac during the Ascot races scene. Ben Rentoul’s sound design also shines at the horse races. There were a couple of moments of minor microphone issues, but overall, the sound is well balanced between the CSO and vocalists. Partnering with the CSO is the perfect choice for Loewe’s score, with excellent musical depth.
Harold Moot’s set design is grand but highly functional, complimented by AV design by Dave Spark. The backdrop appeared like grand paintings of London scenes, but cleverly transitions without you even noticing.
Showbiz’s production of My Fair Lady is a truly grand production in a suitably grand setting. A recommended evening out for classic musical theatre fans of all ages.
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