The penultimate week of term saw a hugely ambitious and brilliant production of My Fair Lady which featured no less than 70 young cast members from years 9 to 13.
Audiences were impressed by not only how well drilled the cast were, but also their commitment and energy – all of the tiny details and cameos, especially in the big scenes, were remarkable. All over the stage, there was something to catch the eye for all the right reasons. Every actor was strong yet all so different in atmosphere, such as the spectacular Cecil Beaton-esque costumed ‘Ascot Gavotte’ with all the stiff-necked, stiff-faced elegant aristocrats.
The smaller roles were carried off with terrific poise and chutzpah – especially Katie Smart (fabulous), Toby Greaves (hilarious), Grace Greaves, Owen Houser, Ollie Smart and Liam McKinnes – and Sam Crichton as a delightfully starry-eyed and hopeless Freddie.
The leads were incredible, Lewis Haywood bubbled over as an irrepressible and cheeky Alfred P. Doolittle in some wonderfully energetic and uplifting crowd numbers. Felix Nelson played a bumbling and good-natured Pickering. Prof. Higgins and Eliza pulled off brilliant performances; Jack Coomb’s movement and enunciation were so exactly period using his energy in a refined and bridled down manner. Opposite this ‘motorbus’ of a Higgins, the wonderful Eliza, played by Beth Ellison, was a total match for him – great comedy and hints of Vicky Pollard at the start, transforming into a woman of grace, refinement and elegance. The way in which Beth silently circled the stage during ‘You Did It’ was a particular highlight.
All this was hugely enhanced by the band who played with a lovely sense of ebb and flow in the tempo changes and rubato.
An audience member commented: “I was just enthralled by the polish, the refinement, the class and grace, the energy and excitement: it was really spectacular. Dean Close are so, so lucky to have drama and music departments capable of putting on something as first-class as that.”