Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Fair Lady - Review- Whitley Bay Playhouse

My Fair Lady
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society
28 Feb 2011

My Fair Lady is the simple story of a Eliza Doolittle, a humble flower girl in the heart of London trying to make her way in life. A chance encounter with Professor Higgins a leading linguist could well change her life

I last saw My Fair Lady in its less musical role as Pygmalion (REVIEW) last month in Newcastle. I was blown away by the set up, the acting and the good feeling vibe that was obvious in the audience leaving the theatre. Tonight Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society needed to push the boundaries out to meet and match the previous amateur offerings.
In my opinion Pygmalion was flat in comparision to the bright and buzzing My Fair Lady that was served up.
The marvelous singing and the dazzling choreography (Lyndsey Harrison) as well as the fantastic sets made all of the difference.
Charlotte May as Doolittle captivated the audience with not only her superb singing voice, but her accents (the harsh Covent Garden cockney type to the stiff upper lip Queens English) were spot on. To be honest I found it hard to differentiate between her accents and the accents of the previous Doolittle in Pygmalion, which for me was brilliantly eerie. May's acting skills have lead her to audition for the Professional Musical Theatre Course, I certainly think there is a  rightful place for her.
Professor Henry Higgins was brilliantly played by Alan Davison, his rough around the edges, but caring character came through in his performance. The stage was lit up by his poise and charm. His singing voice was also very enjoyable.
Andy Dean, as the sidekick of Higgins -Colonel Pickering- gracefully made his part his own, although I am sure he succeeded with his other previous three starring roles in MFL.
The lovely designed sets took us from the Opera House in Covent Garden, to the in and outside of Higgins' study. The attention to detail was fabulous, a lot of work must have been done by Technical guys there.
Sound was adequate, from Leah McKenzie and Darren Lowe as was the lighting (also by Lowe).
Musical direction from Andrew Clarence was very precise and his musicians played their parts well in enhancing the performance.
Director Chris Johnson, who I last reviewed as part of the super NOISES OFF, has worked very hard in putting all of his breadth of experiences together and creating a fun and very enjoyable musical. Considering this was his first bash at directing a musical production, then more so that I take my hat off to him. I only hope that the public support him and their local theatre better than they did tonight, far too many empty seats spoiled what was a great evening at the theatre.
It is fitting that this TAOS opening night play is performed the day after The Oscar ceremony in America. It is touted that multi award winning actor Colin Firth is lined up to play Prof Higgins in a forthcoming rehash of the movie, he would definitely benefit from a few acting lessons off Mr Davison.

For timings and pricing please refer to my PREVIEW

The Day after this review I spoke to Chris Johnson, the director, regarding the sound and light. He is very much a perfectionist. He asked me if I would come back to re-review it at the end of the week, so he could tweak this and take this from a great review to a fantastic review.
My right hand man Noel Harris who stepped into reviewing When Harry Met Sally for me, stepped into the breach and again watched it with his review head on.
This is what Noel thought of it:-

I listened to some of the audience as they left, many people were saying that it was nothing short of professional in every way. From the acting, to the singing and through to the lighting, sound and scenery, the whole package left the audience totally gobsmacked. The complex scene changes occurred seamlessly, with none of them appearing to take more than 30 seconds.
The fast dialogue from the actors sped us through the rather long first half, and to be honest I could easily watch this show again. 

Chris Johnson has taken a place in the history of amateur theatre, and any company wanting a refreshing twist on an old favourite should really be calling him up. The TAOS is clearly succeeding in bringing old favourites into the twenty first century, whilst graciously incorporating the invaluable talent of it's senior members, both on and off the stage. Well done to them!

So it seems that Mr Johnson has tweaked his way into creating even better than what was originally on offer. The sound and the lighting which worked on the Monday -but could have definitely been better - has been bettered! All the stops seemed to have been pulled out!
I feel confident through the words of Noel, and my own viewing that is was a pretty special performance, both on and off the stage.
I cant wait for the next production that Johnson is involved with.

Michael Hunter

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