MY TRUTH premiered in New York in 1956 and in London in 1958; and then there was the 1964 George Cucor Film.

60 years later it’s amazing how time has not erased memories of Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Stanley Holloway and Cecil Beaton’s costumes, especially the black and white Ascot scene.

The main difference between Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalionand the clever musical adaptation of Frederick Lowe and Alan Jay Lerner is that the musical has a romantic ending.

The show didn’t want a happy ending. He never approved of the romantic path of the original actors (Herbert Birbom Three and Mrs. Patrick Campbell) in 1913.

Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, a confirmed old bachelor, selfish, arrogant, passionate, takes on the task of turning Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl, into a duchess.

The show describes Higgins as a “very impetuous baby,” and that’s how he is played by Harry Haden Peyton, immature, childishly rude and seemingly afraid of women, constantly running away and talking too softly for a theater the size of the London Colosseum.

Higgins completely ignores people’s feelings and does not think for a moment what will happen to Eliza when the experiment is over. So the big surprise, the weird transformation, is how serious he gets when he talks / sings about how he got used to Eliza’s face.

Eliza Omar Okereke, the first black Eliza, shouts too much in the starting scene at Covent Garden, and the performance is too broad at first; but in the course of history it becomes more subtle. I could dance all night stops the show, and she has an exciting scene where Higgins takes full credit for her success at the ball and gives her nothing.

Bartlett Sher’s production, lavishly dressed by Catherine Zuber, fits the show, and Eliza is better than Nora in Ibsen Doll’s house. She doesn’t just leave Higgins; she walks past the arch of the forefront and exits the performance, into the auditorium and up the aisle and out of the theater through the weekend door. The final image of Higgins is that he, alone, is devastated.

Sharif Afifi is Freddie who fell in love with Eliza and sang for her On the street where you live. Stephen K. Amos, who played Eliza’s daddy, has two rooms in the music hall. The second, Take me to church on timefeels completely wrong and gets ridiculous when meeting boys in drags dressed as girls.

The main and admirable feature of Sher’s renaissance and much of its appeal, along with all the familiar songs, are the ever-changing and rotating sets of Michelle Jergan, which are very effectively put on stage in front of an audience.

To learn more about Robert Tanic and his reviews, click here to go to his website Robert Tanich logo

Robert Tanitch reviews My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum

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