My Fair Lady

Previewed 6 March 2001, Opened 15 March 2001, Closed 30 June 2001 at the National Theatre Lyttelton Theatre
Transferred 21 July 2001, Closed 30 August 2003 at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal in London

A major revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical My Fair Lady in London directed by Trevor Nunn.

The opinionated linguistics professor and confirmed bachelor Professor Henry Higgins makes a wager with Colonel Pickering that within six months he can transform a cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, into a lady who can take her place in high society. He wins the bet, but doesn't bargain for the profound effect that she has on his life.

Lerner and Loewe's multi-award winning musical became one of the greatest successes of the New York and London stages, and paved the way for the hugely popular film version in 1964. The score is full of great songs including 'I Could Have Danced All Night', 'The Rain in Spain', 'Wouldn't it be Loverly' and 'I'm Getting Married in the Morning'.

The cast for My Fair Lady in London from 10 March 2003 features Anthony Andrews as 'Professor Henry Higgins' and Laura Michelle Kelly as 'Eliza Doolittle' along with Russ Abbot as 'Alfred P Doolittle', Stephen Moore as 'Colonel Pickering', and Michael Xavier as 'Freddy Eynsford-Hill'. From 22 April 2002 Alex Jennings played the role of 'Professor Henry Higgins' and from 10 December 2001 Joanna Riding played the role of 'Eliza Doolittle'. The original cast featured Martine McCutcheon as 'Eliza Doolittle' (first understudy was Alexandra Jay, second understudy was Kerry Ellis) and Jonathan Pryce as 'Professor Henry Higgins'. Musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe adapted from Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion and Gabriel Pascal's motion picture. Directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Matthew Bourne, designs by Anthony Ward, lighting by David Hersey and sound by Paul Groothuis. Lerner and Loewe's West End credits include the musicals Gigi, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon. Michael Xavier's London theatre credits include the musical Pageant at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2000.

"The accomplished actress Joanna Riding has slipped into the role of Eliza Doolittle and she's more than competent. She overdoes the mockney, cruelly torturing vowels and consonants before she finally gets her tongue round the idea that the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain. But her comic timing is perfect in the blissfully funny tea-party scene... The balance of this production swings deservedly in the favour of Alex Jennings, whose masterful performance suggests that he was born to play Professor Higgins. Higgins's rigid bearing and blinkered attitude reveal his absolute sense of his own intellectual and social superiority... A very fair production." The Mail on Sunday - June 2002

"Trevor Nunn's production is as slick as ever, refreshing the parts other revivals seldom reach. Original cast member Dennis Waterman hasn't been tempted to turn Alfred Doolittle into an avuncular rogue but remains a hard man with a roving eye, and Malcolm Sinclair's Colonel Pickering is no mere stuffed shirt, celebrating Eliza's Spanish meteorological bulletin with a flamenco flourish. Anthony Ward's sets shift seamlessly from Covent Garden streets to Higgins's library-sized study, and Matthew Bourne's set pieces - the Ascot Gavotte with the posh punters prancing like thoroughbreds and a dustbin-lid stomp through Alfred's drinking haunts - become mini-dramas in themselves. And through it all, Lerner's witty lyrics and Loewe's melodic score still weave their magic." The Times - May 2002

"If you still need to be persuaded that My Fair Lady is a great musical, you never will be, so I won't try. The only questions most people are likely to ask about the National Theatre revival at the Lyttelton Theatre are about the quality of the production, and the short answer to the most obvious question of all is yes, it's a success. But beyond that I have to report that I found the evening a two-tier affair - sometimes very good. If anything, 'very good' seems inadequate for the two best performances, Jonathan Pryce's persuasively professorial Henry Higgins and Nicholas Le Prevost's gentlemanly Colonel Pickering. Perhaps 'superlative' would be closer to the mark... About Martine McCutcheon's Eliza I feel more divided. She is personable; she looks right; she delivers the cheeky cockney ripostes with plenty of humour and bounce. Yet the fairy-tale aspects of her story left me relatively unmoved. Her performance, barring the occasional strained note or stiff gesture, is highly efficient, but there is something synthetic about it... At the very least, then, a decent production - 'decent' also seems the right word for Anthony Ward's designs - and at its best hugely enjoyable. But neither the exhilaration nor the romantic momentum are strong enough to quell one's doubts about the sentimental Henry-gets-Eliza happy ending." The Sunday Telegraph - original cast

"EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon... [is] an utter triumph. A Cockney playing a Cockney was an inspired idea. And politically she's much more correct than having an Audrey Hepburn equivalent. Miss McCutcheon won us all over by sheer charm - and what I call fizzability - as she's dragged kicking and screaming out of the gutter by the tyrannical Professor Higgins... Jonathan Pryce makes for a barkingly abrupt Higgins, but he's not ideal. He's an actor best-suited to intense psychological roles. Higgins doesn't require that. He’s a brute who, like Eliza, discovers through her transformation that he too has grown up... Staged by Anthony Ward, it looks exquisite... One of the greatest musicals of all time, it's already sold out. To see it, you'll have to wait for it to the transfer to Drury Lane, where it always belonged." The Daily Express - original cast

"The first thing you notice on the Lyttelton stage is the impeccable sense of style. Trevor Nunn (director), Matthew Bourne (choreographer) and Anthony Ward (designer) are a dream team: together they re-create a bygone age with flawless accuracy and use complex scenery and a large cast of actors and dancers with the combined skills of a magician, a master engineer and a military commander. They weave together spectacle, psychology and lyrical feeling with an irresistable expertise. The opening had been preceded by the usual vacuous controversy about Nunn's Eliza, 24-year-old Martine McCutcheon. Should a pop singer and former soap opera actress get one of the greatest roles in the musical theatre?... What finally emerges is an irresistibly shrewd and warm-hearted performance: a vulnerable but truculent young woman who is both naive and cunning, unaware of her own prettiness, needing to be protected but ready to lash out like an enraged weasel if you trespass on her patch. Her singing is sweet, with a natural sense for phrasing. Her top notes sound a little insecure but that, from what I heard, could easily be ironed out... Jonathan Pryce starts off, like everybody else playing Higgins, with the apparent disadvantage that he is not Rex Harrison. Pryce knows this cannot be helped and turns it brilliantly to his advantage. The result is a deeply sophisticated and entertaining performance... This is still one of the great musicals, dazzling, sophisticated, funny, sharp and generous - and it gets a production to match. If the plans for a West End transfer are still in place, get your 2005 diary now and pencil in a few dates." The Sunday Times - original cast

"They got her to the theatre on time - but it was touch and go. Flu-hit Martine McCutcheon was given the go ahead to open in My Fair Lady just hours before the curtain went up. And she was given a tremendous reception by the packed first night audience. It is just a short cab ride from the East End to the South Bank - but it is one hell of a journey for the 24-year-old actress. She goes from soap star and pop singer to National Theatre leading lady in Trevor Nunn's 5million revival of Lerner and Loewe's musical classic... We already knew she could act and we already knew she could sing. Now we know she can do both at the same time... Jonathan Pryce effortlessly shrugs off the shadow of Rex Harrison as irascible bachelor Professor Henry Higgins who makes a bet that he can pass her off in high society by teaching her to speak properly... Dennis Waterman from TV's Minder gives a barn-storming performance in the role of Eliza's philosophical dustman dad Alfred P Doolittle originally played on stage and screen by Stanley Holloway. The costumes are lavish and the sets sumptuous. It's full of rousing choruses and lively dance routines and although it runs for three and a quarter hours with interval the time zips by. The entire cast including Nicholas Le Prevost as Colonel Pickering and Mark Umbers as the love-sick Freddy Eynsford-Hill are terrific." The Daily Mirror - original cast

My Fair Lady in London at the National Theatre Lyttelton Theatre previewed from 6 March 2001, opened on 15 March 2001, closed on 30 June 2001 transferred to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 21 July 2001 to 30 August 2003