After George Bernard Shaw wrote his very successful play, Pygmalion, he spent decades refusing the rights to turn to it into a musical. But still, the West End and Hollywood dreamt …”wouldn’t it be loverly?” Eventually they got their way: a ‘loverly’ stage production was born and the musical was soon immortalised in an iconic rags to riches film. The Cotswolds Savoyards bring their amateur adaptation of My Fair Lady to the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham this week.
When Professor Higgins plucks Eliza from the gutter and teaches her to speak correctly, she is propelled into a world far from her roots of selling flowers in Covent Garden. ‘I did it!’ he cries, when his experiment is over, leaving Eliza to ask ‘what’s to become of me?’; and the audience to question whether Eliza was the only one affected by the bet.
It’s always easy to root for Eliza, but Hannah Bennett makes it so much easier still. She is delightful in the role and quickly captivates the audience thanks to her warmth, beautiful vocals and charming cockney sparrow accent. Although amateur, it is thankfully nothing like Dick Van Dyke’s attempt in Mary Poppins.
Taking on the role of Henry Higgins could be a formidable task, given the iconic nature of Rex Harrison’s performance in the film. Nevertheless, Paul Scott manages to endear and frustrate in equal measure. Whilst he never quite hits the heights of Harrison’s Higgins, this is a masterful and engaging performance. His chemistry with Hannah as Eliza is great and together they dominate almost every scene they are in.
The ensemble cast are highly enthusiastic and, combined with the live orchestra, bring a sense of occasion and liveliness to the production. Special mention must also go to the set designers; most of the professional productions only manage a couple of sets at best. The Savoyards managed impressive full-scale sets for each location which brought it all vividly to life.
Brimming with familiar songs such as Get Me To The Church on Time, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, and With A Little Bit of Luck, I challenge any audience member to not find themselves singing along or tapping their toes. I certainly was.
This is an energetic and upbeat performance; I’m sure you’ll go home wishing you too could have ‘danced, danced, danced all night’.
Where can you see My Fair Lady?
My Fair Lady is at The Everyman until Saturday 19th May – book now!
What can I see next at the Everyman Theatre?
West End and Broadway success HAIRSPRAY comes to the Everyman Tuesday 29th May – Sunday 3rd June. If you can’t stop the beat, book your tickets now; this one won’t hang around for long!
About The Cotswold Savoyards
The Cotswold Savoyards was formed in 1962 to produce the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Over the past few years they have widened our repertoire; shows have included Salad Days, Sweeney Todd, Candide, Into the Woods, Scrooge – The Musical, Titanic – The Musical, Anything Goes and A Little Night Music. Their repertoire is now split evenly between the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and those of other composers.
The Savoyards stage two productions per year, each running for a week; one at The Playhouse, and the other at The Everyman. They also consider requests from other organisations to stage concerts on behalf of charity. The society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 with a special concert at Cheltenham Town Hall at which the Master of Ceremonies was their President, the world-renowned baritone Donald Maxwell.