Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolitte, a cockney flower seller plucked from Covent Garden by pompous linguistics professor Henry Higgins who is determined to transform this ‘guttersnipe’ into a proper lady, no matter the cost.
This multi-award-winning production of Lerner & Loewe’s classic musical comes to Manchester following a critically acclaimed West End run and from the opening scene it’s clear to see why audiences from New York to the London have been captivated by this luverly revival.
Michael Yeargan’s set design immediately impresses, managing to be both elaborate and functional, it is incredible, while Catherine Zuber’s sumptuous costumes are simply stunning, paying true homage to the authentic look of the My Fair Lady we’ve come to know and love.
Taking on the role of Eliza, made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 movie version, Charlotte Kennedy breezes into the flower sellers boots and swiftly makes the role her own. From Wouldn’t It Be Loverley to I Could Have Danced All Night, she captivates entirely; her vocals are sublime. Eliza’s journey from start to finish is incredible to watch, as she brings real emotion to the complexities created by the Professors experiment.
Michael D. Xavier makes for a wonderful Professor Higgins, suave and seemingly sophisticated he gives the character genuine likability and fantastic comedic value. His facial expressions and physicality add layers to the dialogue as he gifts the audience with laugh after laugh due to the absolute absurdity of his firmly held opinions. Despite his misogynistic leanings the effect Eliza has on him is wonderful to see, the pair have you rooting for them wholeheartedly as the bicker and bristle throughout.
Adam Woodyatt is clearly having an absolute ball playing Eliza’s father, Alfred P Doolittle, a role he delivers with ease while impressing with his vocals, Get Me To The Church is a real highlight and also allows the talented ensemble to truly shine. Another stand out ensemble moment comes during the Ascot Gavette which is visually stunning with pitch perfect vocals.
The rest of the supporting cast are equally as strong. John Middleton’s portrayal of Colonel Pickering adds another wonderful element to the piece as he brings a light playfulness to the role.
Tom Liggins is great fun as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a lovesick puppy desperate for Eliza’s affections. Heather Jackson is a self-assured Mrs Higgins while Lesley Garrett as Mrs Pearce reminds us all just how vocally talented she is.
If classic, classy theatre is what you want then that’s exactly what you’ll get from this stunning production. Everything about it feels top quality, from the cast to the costumes this lavish production hits every note. Bursting with much-loved songs, oozing with style and chock-full of talent this My Fair Lady is not to be missed.
My Fair Lady is on at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 1st April tickets available here.