Firm favourite ‘My Fair Lady’ in fine form

2009-12-08 00:00

Theatre review:

My Fair Lady

The Playhouse Opera Theatre, Durban

MY FAIR Lady has long been one of my favourite musicals and before I’d even taken my seat in the Playhouse Opera Theatre I was humming I Could’ve Danced All Night. I walked out the theatre a few hours later with a silly grin on my face after what proved to be a fabulous show.

Ralph Lawson was in fine form as the crusty and egotistical Professor Henry Higgins, opposite Gina Shmukler as the Cockney flower seller who is transformed into a lady, a role she shares with Lisa Bobbert.

Shmukler’s voice is a real delight, but it was her charm and sassiness that really helped make the character real.

Another scene stealer was Themi Venturas in the role of Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle. I especially loved his rendition of Get Me To The Church On Time.

And, of course, it’s always a treat to be able to listen to the KwaZulu­Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, which provides all the musical accompaniment for the musical.

The 2009 staging of the musical does offer up a couple of surprises though. The first is that Freddy, the man who falls for Eliza after meeting her at the Ascot races, is given a bit more to do. Lawson, who also directs, got actor Cobus Venter to be less static in the scene where he sings On The Street Where She Lives. The result is a song-and-dance number reminiscent of the forties musicals starring the likes of Fred Astaire. It’s a great addition.

The other change involves the staging — to be specific, the set. Andrew Botha and Stan Knight have opted not to use traditional solid sets. In their place are beautifully lit backdrops and panels which make scene changes quick and quiet. This change might not appeal to purists, but I have to ­admit that I really liked it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this festive- season treat and my advice to you is don’t miss My Fair Lady.


• My Fair Lady is at Durban’s Playhouse Opera Theatre until December 30. Tickets at Computicket.


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