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Review: MY FAIR LADY at Regal Theatre

Review: MY FAIR LADY at Regal Theatre

Huge production of theatre classic delights at The Regal

Review: MY FAIR LADY at Regal Theatre
Grace Edwards as Eliza Doolittle

Having wowed Perth with their debut production of The Producers last year, Alexandra Theater was happy to go large again- perhaps even larger- and brought out theater icon MY FAIR LADY for their winter production. With wonderful period costumes, a huge and varied set and a large cast of talented performers, they showed not only why this a stage classic, but also that this theater company can put on big productions and do it well.

Based on George Bernard-Shaw's classic play Pygmalion, which itself is based on the mythical Greek poem Metamorphoses, MY FAIR LADY is set in London in 1912 (roughly when the movie Mary Poppins is set, and incidentally in the middle of the reign of Alexandra Theater's namesake Princess Alexandra). The feel of the time is wonderfully captured by both the costumes and the set. The façade of the Royal Opera House is the piece of scenery in the opening act, and it balances the ornate theme of the building with the reality of the time, with beggars and flower sellers mixing with the upper class. The scenes are wonderful throughout, with Henry Higgins' living room and a downtown pub both coming to life on stage. It is no surprise to see such a large team needed for the sets, with Jane Byrne's concepts brought to life by a team of seven, including set design stalwart Peter Carr. The wonderful costumes also demanded a huge team, with Marilyn Husk and Rosalie Sankey overseeing a talented team who created and sourced over one hundred truly impressive costumes. Credit must also go to the millinery team. I can't remember the last time I saw milliners credited for theater work, but this team of five do a wonderful job and the headpieces are indeed something to behold.

The cast is led by Grace Edwards as Eliza. Edwards is lovable as both a Cockney flower girl and a well-spoken member of higher society. Her skills across everything the role demands are exemplary, with joy, sadness, and humour all portrayed effortlessly. To add to this, her vocals are truly outstanding in a performance that would not be out of place on any stage. In a case of life imitating art, Edwards is studying a masters of speech pathology, an apt pursuit for an outstanding Eliza. Opposite her is Mark Thompson as Henry Higgins. Thompson balances brusque and egomaniacal ways that make the character with wonderful comic timing and acting. It is hard to like Henry Higgins, but Thompson makes it impossible to dislike him. As Colonel Pickering we had Alex McLennan, who perfectly encapsulates the turn-of-the-century gentleman. Higgins' caring (and equalizing) housekeeper Mrs Pearce is wonderfully performed by Colleen Johnson, and a similar perfect foil to Higgins' ways is his mother, played by Jennifer van den Hoek.

Peter (Pear) Carr is irresistible as Alfred Doolittle, with Carr's humour very much lending itself to the part. Also being part of the staging team, Carr's performance demonstrates that the Perth theatrer scene is lucky to have him. In another perfect performance was Calen Simpson as Freddy, the hopelessly love-struck and somewhat hopeless socialite. He plays a man in love brilliantly and helps accentuate the good and bad sides of Eliza's character. The nearly forty strong ensemble fit into the show excellently and all deserve credit for the way it is balanced.

Natalee Graveson took on the difficult task of directing such a big production (assisted by Luke van der Beeke), and she skillfully kept the show moving and ensured it was entertaining and spectacular. Chloe Palliser choreographed her first big piece excellently, with many entertaining dance numbers and many dancers to manage that showcased tap, ballroom, and a darling can-can that utilized most of the ensemble. As is the age we live in, stage manager Madison Laine Thomas was struck down by illness on the eve of opening night, and whilst Deputy Simmone Matthews and a team of twelve (with no doubt many performers having to help out too) took on the task of shifting the many parts of the huge set well, there were still noticeable difficulties that speak more to the Herculean task of moving and making the large and intricate pieces than anything else. Indeed, Alexandra Theatre must be applauded for taking on such a musical, large in both style and length. Whilst the audience may have been flagging towards the end of each act, the cast never did, carrying the energy and humour as strongly at curtains up as they were for the finale over three hours later. The overall result was an entertaining and spirited show that enamored the audience to the huge creative team and to Alexandra Theater, each and every one of whom took as much skill as they did bravery to the task in front of them.

MY FAIR LADY is at the Regal Theatre until July 2nd. Tickets from Ticketek.

From This Author - David Bravos

I sit in the small field of miners who enjoy theatre. My love began when The Phantom of the Opera toured, and I dragged my new girlfriend along. Interest in one show became an interest in many, as the... (read more about this author)

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Having wowed Perth with their debut production of The Producers last year, Alexandra Theater was happy to go large again- perhaps even larger- and brought out theater icon MY FAIR LADY for their winter production. With wonderful period costumes, a huge and varied set and a large cast of talented performers, they perfectly staged this classic.