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My Fair Lady. Curtain Up Productions. Grimsby Auditorium.

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

My Fair Lady

Curtain Up Productions

Grimsby Auditorium

January 26th – 29th 2022

Welcome back Curtain Up Productions, you have been missed. It is a delight to see you back with a bang at Grimsby Auditorium doing what you do best, a large-scale musical with a big cast and lavish sets. My Fair Lady is a triumph. It is exactly what the Grimsby audience needs at this time, it is a happy, bright and uplifting show that is cheerful, colourful and a cavalcade of comic performances.

It seems odd to see a production of My Fair Lady in Grimsby without David Wrightam in the role of Professor Henry Higgins but rest assured David’s hand is at work as director and there is no one who knows the show better to guide the cast and shape the show for a new audience in 2022. Along with daughter Hayley as choreographer and Musical Director Simon Percy, they have created a joyful production to be proud of and I am sure they are.

This iconic musical is a fine example of Broadway in the 1950s with Lerner and Loewe’s wonderful book and lyrics resonating through the subconscious as they take on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and give it new life.

The central role of Eliza is played by a newcomer to the society in Emma Wighton. She is exactly what you would hope Eliza to be, she is elfin, charming and plays the comedy well whilst having a gorgeous voice. It is crucial to get the casting of this role right and I am happy to say that they have done so. Her performance of Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? Introduced us to her character and Just You Wait demonstrated a feisty side to Eliza that gave her character some edge. Her performance of I Could Have Danced All Night was sublime and will warm the hearts of the audience who will love her as a character.

As Professor Henry Higgins, David Phillips brings a pompous disregard for the feelings of Eliza superbly. She is a project and part of a wager, and he will not be swayed in his efforts to pass off a Cockney flower girl as a Duchess given the time and sufficient training. He does not play Higgins in the style of Rex Harrison but brings his own interpretation singing songs we are used to hearing almost spoken – not an easy trick to pull off.

His coarse dismissal of Eliza turns into respect, admiration and affection as the show continues. It is hard playing an irascible confirmed bachelor and making him likeable, but we have just that from Phillips, in this show.

Higgins’ companion and co-conspirator is Colonel Pickering, played with gravitas and aplomb by Andrew Bailey. I enjoyed the banter between the two men as they watched Eliza’s transformation from common cockney to a refined young woman. Pickering provides the empathy, the heart and soul that inspires Eliza’s progress and Bailey performs the part admirably.

In the role of potential love interest, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Alex Raines provides a charming suitor obsessed with Eliza and determined to woo her. His strong singing voice is effectively showcased by his big number On The Street Where You Live.

Special mention must be given to John Lane for his energetic and extremely funny performance as Eliza’s father the dustbin man Alfie Doolittle, a drunken ne’er do well who hopes for A Little Bit of Luck and finds himself church bound in Act 2 performing a memorable I’m Getting Married in the Morning.

Lane’s performance is enhanced by the all-action chorus who remain focused and animated throughout. Every performer engaged and loving their place on stage supporting the main cast providing glitz and glamour and an energy that infuses the production highlighted by Hayley Wrightam’s choreography. There is such joy evident on the faces of the performers as they dance that you almost want to jump up and join them.

There are many memorable cameos in the show and Amanda Jepson Trushell as the long-suffering Mrs. Pearce casts a wary eye over the behaviour of the two overgrown schoolboys Higgins and Pickering and their project, saying more through her glances and side eye than the script provides in lines. As Higgins’ prim and proper mother Jeannine Ridha reminds us that she can still command a stage even in such cameos and delivers a wonderfully warm performance as Mrs Higgins. And as Freddy’s mother Anne Forward is a rather judgmental and stuffy Mrs Eynsford-Hill and gives us just what the script requires in a subtle performance.

Some of the costumes were wonderful. I thought that the Ascot scene was exquisite and the set for Henry Higgins' home was utterly breathtaking in its size.

You can probably tell that I really enjoyed watching this show and I trust that it will get the audience it truly deserves. If you want a break from the bleak, repetitive bad news of today, get to Grimsby Auditorium – you won’t be sorry.

Andy Evans

The show runs from 26th – 29th January and tickets are available on the door or in advance.

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