Review Round-Ups

Did critics find My Fair Lady loverly?

Bartlett Sher’s production has arrived in the West End

Jordan Crouch, Tom Ping, Joseph Claus and Tom Liggins with Amara Okereke as Eliza Doolittle
Jordan Crouch, Tom Ping, Joseph Claus and Tom Liggins with Amara Okereke as Eliza Doolittle
© Marc Brenner
Bartlett Sher's Lincoln Center Theater revival of Lerner and Loewe's classical musical My Fair Lady, first seen on Broadway, has arrived at the London Coliseum. Starring Amara Okereke (Eliza Doolittle), Harry Hadden-Paton (Henry Higgins) and Vanessa Redgrave (Mrs Higgins), did the production have the critics dancing all night? Let's find out.

Alex Wood, WhatsOnStage


"As isn't all that shocking, Sher brings out cracking performances from his cast… The break-out star, as well she should be, is Amara Okereke's Eliza…. She shimmers like sunshine as she sings to the dawn in 'I Could Have Danced All Night', and grounds the whole three-hour show with a faultless depiction of someone simply wanting to get ahead in the world… But it doesn't all click: despite what should be a majestic, rousing atmosphere conjured by a mammoth 40-piece orchestra, the show never really rises to match the grandeur of the Coliseum stage."

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard


"An Eliza Doolittle for a new generation, Amara Okereke absolutely smashes it in Bartlett Sher's joyful staging, here after a triumphant run in New York, of the classic 1956 Lerner and Loewe musical. The first black actress to play the role, the 25-year-old has an effortlessly clear, full and expressive singing voice and can be meltingly soft, blazingly furious and beautifully still. She owns the Coliseum stage, and the role."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian


"Okereke, as Eliza Doolittle, has a voice that fills the auditorium. It is a thrill to see Vanessa Redgrave as Henry Higgins's mother – even if she is gone in the blink of an eye. Higgins (Harry Hadden-Paton) himself is a foppish mashup of several Very English Types, from Colin Firth to Doctor Who – slightly bumbling and not nearly as patrician or haughty as Rex Harrison in the 1964 film… But for those who have seen that screen classic, it is hard to list the reasons to come out for this faithful revival rather than stay at home with the movie. Under Bartlett Sher's direction, the lack of invention feels like a missed opportunity."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times


"This is a very decent, very stylish, eventually quite audacious My Fair Lady. Not, though, a great one. Or certainly not on opening night… Lerner and Loewe borrowed a happy ending from the film version of Pygmalion, the George Bernard Shaw play on which this is based. Sher hands it right back. Before that, this My Fair Lady is always diverting, less often transporting… If the evening doesn't raise the heart rate, the gear change at the end ensures a decent revival ends up somewhere more memorable."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"While there's plenty to recommend it, there are elements of this production that feel underpowered. Michael Yeargan's eye-catching picture-book design has its snags. The set can look empty during the street scenes and cluttered for the interiors, the actors navigating the rotated rooms of Higgins's household by stepping on and off the revolve… Sher takes a leaf out of A Doll's House for a sour denouement – a pretty heavy-handed stroke that affirms that, for all its many plus points, this revival doesn't newly set the benchmark."

Alice Saville, Time Out


"If you strip away its romantic trappings, My Fair Lady is the story of two upper-class men who take on a friendless working-class woman as a bet, bully her into speaking and acting ‘properly' through endless lessons, dress her up like a doll, and then get surprised when she shows evidence of feelings. Sher tries to address the uncomfortable undertones of My Fair Lady with a tweaked ending designed to give Eliza more agency. It doesn't really work, when there's been so little directorial innovation in what's gone before. It's a delight to hear Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's score fill the Coliseum, and this production will just about satisfy its fans, without offering enough to win over sceptics."

Tickets are available below