It’s great to see the lights of Sunderland Empire shine again for a new year of theatre. What better way to start than with the showstopper My Fair Lady!
This production on My Fair lady directed by Bartlett Sher first premiered in Spring 2018 and is a proud winner of a Tony Award for Best Costume Design as well as an accolade of other awards to put on it’s belt.
It’s arrived at Sunderland Empire with a impressive cast and will be here from 1st February 2023 until 11th February 2023. However you can catch it on it’s UK and Ireland Tour until 1st April 2023.
The musical tells the tale of a young “commoner” Eliza Doolittle (Charlotte Kennedy) meeting a Gentleman Henry Higgins (Michael D. Xavier) on the streets of London under not to glamourous circumstances. The Gentleman Mr Higgins shows his distaste in Eliza’s common ways and tongue and goes on to talk about how we as a country do not teach out language correctly to our children and to comment on accents from across the UK back in London in 1913.
He is joined by Colonel Pickering (john Middleton or Ashley from Emmerdale) in an uncanny coincidence of travelling to meet each other when the Colonel dares Mr Higgins to make a honourable lady out of Eliza ahead of a ball at Buckingham Palace in a challenge he joked about earlier.
Although set in 1913 the difference in society and views still hits home today and a really good underpin throughout the musical.
Mr Higgins offer Eliza a “way out” and to change her into a lady and once done, she will have the freedom to do and go wherever she wants.
Michael D. Xavier is a well rounded character showing us comedy, anger, frustration and last but not least love. He reminded me of a young John Cleese with his natural ability to make us laugh and stage presence.
Charlotte Kennedy is able to flip back and forward between accents like Ive never heard before turning from a broad London accent to a real English lady seamlessly throughout the show and has a wonderful singing voice too. Charlotte tells the story of Eliza, a young woman who learns her worth as a women along her journey to become a real English lady. She is able to elegantly explain that no matter youre background, women should be respected and should respect themselves.
She of course falls in love with Mr Higgins charming ways although he does his best not to fall for women and he so kindly asks “why can’t women be more like men?”.
His sidekick Mr Pickering helps them along on this journey and is a formidable double act to Mr Higgins bringing added comedy to the show and showing Mr Higgins what a true gentleman should act like although never pushing it on him.
The musical has many hit songs that you won’t be able to get out of you’re head. Or that you may not have known came from this musical.
“I could have danced all night” and “I’m getting married in the morning” are songs that you would have heard again and again. All sang brilliantly by the cast.
Eliza’s father (Adam Woodyatt also known as Ian Beale from EastEnders) Alfred Doolittle plays a brilliant role. He has a brilliant act in the second half that will have you dancing and belly laughing in youre seat.
With each act the My Fair Lady costumes getting bigger and better. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what fancy dress Eliza would be wearing in each act. They did not disappoint. I was very impressed with how quick and seamless to dress changes were in between scenes and how they glittered on the stage.
Make sure you grab youre tickets while you can to see this star studded, extremely talented cast before it finished for this tour.
For more theatre reviews see here
*gifted tickets however views are my own