REVIEW: My Fair Lady is one loverly show

The costumes for My Fair Lady have been modelled on the original designs by Cecil Beaton.
The costumes for My Fair Lady have been modelled on the original designs by Cecil Beaton. Peter Wallis

MY FAIR Lady is a loverly night out at the theatre that's well worth the trek to Brisbane.

This faithful recreation of Lerner and Loewe's original Broadway show, directed by the original Eliza Doolittle herself Dame Julie Andrews, is a visual feast full of cleverly designed sets and lavish costumes.

WATCH Dame Julie Andrews talk about My Fair Lady

This tale of an arrogant English professor who teaches a Cockney flower girl to talk and act like a lady doesn't seem to have aged a day.

What starts as a bet between Professor Higgins and his mate Colonel Pickering turns into a life-changing experience for both men and their student Eliza.

Anna O'Byrne as Eliza Doolittle in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady.
Anna O'Byrne as Eliza Doolittle in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady. Jeff Busby

The clash of classes and cultures is both fodder for comedy and emotional turmoil as Eliza is exposed to a world she could have only dreamed of as a "gutter snipe" - one of Higgins' favourite jabs.

Rising star of the stage Anna O'Byrne, originally from Melbourne, is captivating as Eliza. It's surely the toughest role in the show as she undergoes the mammoth transformation from a dirty flower girl to the charming new face of London's high society.  

She's wonderfully surly in Just You Wait, both midway through the first act and reprised in act two, and hilarious in the Ascot race day scene.

A scene from the musical My Fair Lady.
A scene from the musical My Fair Lady. Jeff Busby

The opening day at Ascot is the visual climax of the show as more than a dozen ensemble cast members don over-the-top hats and gowns in the traditional black and white theme.

O'Byrne's Eliza, by contrast, is a lovely vision in soft pink, even when she slips back into her Cockney accent during the excitement of the race.

Downton Abbey's Charles Edwards is a great addition to the cast as Professor Higgins, replacing Alex Jennings from the Sydney season.

Anna O'Byrne and Charles Edwards in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady.
Anna O'Byrne and Charles Edwards in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady. Jeff Busby

He captures Higgins' quintessential Britishness and the self-centeredness that comes with living most of your life as a bachelor.

His rantings and raving about why women can't be more like men in A Hymn to Him sums up the academically brilliant, but emotionally stunted man.

Reg Livermore nearly steals the show, though, as Eliza's drunk father Alfred. It's impossible not to sing along with him in act two during Get Me to the Church on Time.  

Reg Livermore, centre, in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady.
Reg Livermore, centre, in a scene from the musical My Fair Lady. Jeff Busby

Robyn Nevin (Upper Middle Bogan) also has a few deliciously, dryly funny moments as Higgins' mother.

My Fair Lady continues a dream run of major shows for Queensland theatre-goers so far this year, following on from Matilda, the triumphant return of Ladies in Black and The Australia's Ballet's Sleeping Beauty.

Not only was Andrews greeted with applause each time she entered the Lyric Theatre last night, she and the cast deservedly received a standing ovation from the opening night audience.

Sometimes a standing ovation can feel forced but people were jumping to their feet as soon as the final curtain was raised.

You'll have so much fun watching My Fair Lady its three-hour run time will fly by.

My Fair Lady is on at QPAC's Lyric Theatre through April 16.

Topics:  julie andrews my fair lady qpac theatre

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