One of our goals for our recent trip to Sydney was to watch My Fair Lady. An Opera Australia production, it starred one of our good friends, Taryn Fiebig, as Eliza Doolittle. Unfortunatley we weren’t there for the opening week, so we had to see the very first of the public preview shows, a fundraising event.
And so we rushed, half sick, in a cab from our hotel to the Theatre Royal with only 5 minutes to spare. It was a beautiful auditorium but frustratingly it had no center aisle so we had to squeeze past many patrons to our centrally located seats (sorry all!). And they did supply booster cushions for the kids!
Luckily we did get there in time, because it was an amazing production, so professional in all ways. You can tell that a production is good when even the chorus sing so well and so perfectly in tune (maybe too perfectly for the low English class!). The revolving set worked remarkably well as it meant scene changes were very fast, and I especially liked how there was some action in between the front and back stages, like being able to view into the side of the pub and dancing in between the stages – what a clever idea to continue the action and mood between scene changes.
But it was the leads that stole the show. I’ve seen the movie many times and played in the pit orchestra in Perth many years ago so I’ve heard all the dialogue before, but I couldn’t help laughing out many times during this show, even to tears. Taryn shone as Eliza, it’s almost like the role was made for her. Her delivery and timing was great, her singing just right, the costumes amazing (that hat at the races!), and her English cockney accent, well.. not quite as authentic as I would’ve liked, but good enough.
Richard E Grant seemed extremely natural playing Professor Higgins, his acting background definitely showing how at ease and professional he is at portraying the mannerisms of a character. And John Wood as Eliza’s father was hilarious. The cast were all good, the set was extravagant, the lighting was atmospheric, the costumes authentic, the orchestra in fine form.
And my pet peeve – sound? No problems at all – the sound was great in the Theatre Royal! It didn’t sound processed, it sounded so natural I wondered whether there was any amplification at all – the sign of sound engineering.
My only complaint? Really one about the musical itself – I reckon the first act is too long and climatic compared to the second act – leaving the second act not as engaging. Maybe the ball should open up the second act? Hmmm…
In any case, our kids loved the show. We still can’t get over the comic delivery of “How do you do?” and our 7yo’s favourite line is “Move your bloomin’ arse!”.
More info and tickets available here: http://www.myfairlady.org.au/