The National Theatre's award-winning revival of Lerner and Loewe's wonderful musical adaptation of Pygmalion embarks on a 12-date UK tour after wowing London audiences. Producer Cameron Mackintosh hasn't scrimped on this production at all. In fact, you'd be forgiven for believing that you're watching this mesmerising production in the heart of the West End.
Amy Nuttall plays sweet, good-natured flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, who longs to better herself by running her own shop. Christopher Cazenove is the emotionless Professor Henry Higgins, who believes that he can turn the naive Cockney street dweller into a sophisticated lady. The Professor receives help from his friend Colonel Hugh Pickering (Stephen Moore). Once transformed, Eliza catches the eye of dashing but shy gent, Freddy (Stephen Carlile). Complications ensue when the muse gains the confidence to spar verbally with her stubborn teacher.
This classic musical ticks all the right boxes, particularly in this jubilant production. The performances are sublime. Nuttall has a voice of real beauty, operatic in a style reminiscent of Julie Andrews yet retaining the fragility required to bring Eliza to life. She is also incredibly convincing in the acting department too, carrying off the dual roles with aplomb.
Cazenove stumbles over his lines on occasion and fails at times to convince the audience that his Higgins really does love the flower girl. But he appears more confident and convincing in Act 2. Russ Abbot gives a commanding and endearing turn reprising the role of Alfred P Doolittle, Eliza's drunken, fun-loving father. His rendition of "With A Little Bit of Luck" leaves you breathless with excitement.
Carlile also impresses during his stunning version of "On the Street Where You Live". And Moore brings great comic timing to Higgins' sidekick, Pickering. Meanwhile, Honor Blackman oozes good, old-fashioned star quality as Mrs Higgins.
Matthew Bourne's stunning choreography and marvellous musical staging adds icing to this already delicious cake. Whilst Anthony Ward's multi-functional set amazes.
Trevor Nunn has stayed true to the original piece but added so much pizzazz and class that you'll be left with a luvverly smile on your face from exhilarating start to heart-warming finish. The audience on the night I attended clapped till their hands hurt. Like its leading lady, My Fair Lady is truly magical.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Palace Theatre, Manchester)