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Another Review of My Fair Lady


Gordon Bull


Surrey Opera's production was scintillating as much for the excellent orchestra as for the principals and cast. Eliza (Rebecca Hodgetts) was supreme as the cockney flower girl metamorphosing into the fair lady she was to become with beautiful diction and precise accent. Higgins (Paul Sheehan) played his part superbly with just a touch of Rex Harrison, and Pickering (Tim Baldwin) well cast. Previously I had always winced at the part of Freddie but James McOran-Campbell was so perfect in the part with beautiful voice that I was completely converted.
Kevin Jones doubled as Eliza's father and Zoltan Kodaly which he coupled superbly, bringing quite a different vocal touch to each part-the rough cockney to the sophisticated Hungarian polyglot was a transition to die for. Morven Rae doubled equally well as housekeeper Mrs Pearce and Freddie's mother. Alison Pearce as Mrs Higgins was superb.
I was fascinated to see that surtitles were brightly displayed for I must say that the diction was totally acceptable but I had never quite before managed to capture all of those speedy syllables that Eliza has to spit out at Higgins in the final scene. She was amazing, but to see them certainly helped. What a nerve-wracking experience it must be to know that every word one sings and says is there for the audience to match up, should they be distracted. I salute them all.
The surtitle was fortunate for some in that that SHOCKING WORD in the race scene uttered by Eliza was lost in the clatter of hooves at that important point. As to the run up — what were those horsey noises that caused me so much mirth and merriment?
Finally one must pay tribute to the sets and the staff who so ably reconstructed scenes before our eyes. Then there was the joy of experiencing the costume of the period and the whole gamut.
Chorus and principals were spot on, so thanks to Director Jonathan Butcher, all the musicians(!), the backroom boys and girls for such an excellent, musically satisfying production.

(Ed. We also saw this show. What a joy to hear the music so well played and sung UNAMPLIFIED!)