WITHAM Operatic Society's My Fair Lady is a show that will be remembered with pleasure for years. The well-known melodies were handled with affection by Stephen Kenna and his orchestra and the swiftly alternating to the highly efficient backstage crew of Witham Operatic Society.
Tim Sheppard scored a personal triumph with his fluent and consistent picture of Higgins the selfish professor absorbed in his work. Equally successful was Janet Collins as Eliza, the girl from the gutter who was taught to talk her way into high society. Both principals handled the dialogue with professional skill.
Colonel Pickering, Higgins' side-kick, who usually finds this a thankless part, was given a new lease of life by an impressive and dignified performance by Nicholas Clough, and Rita Page made the perfect housekeeper for a male ménage. Stewart Adkins, as Doolittle, the dustman with ideas, brought oceans of vitality to the part, and Malcolm Lowe, as frustrated Freddy, sang delightfully.
But Derek Collins used his apparently inexhaustible ingenuity to coax the very fine chorus to reach new heights of versatility. There were buskers in the manner of Wilson, Keppel and Betty, a notable little ensemble of very good singers and ever so many character parts acted with confidence, notably Jean Cosslett as Mrs Higgins, Anne Sheppard as Mrs Eynsford Hill, Lydia Clough as Mrs Hopkins, and the reliable and ubiquitous Ewart Cornfield as the butler.
cast: Elisabeth Miller, Julie Hampshire, Wayne Savill, Anne Sheppard, Janet Collins, Malcolm Lowe, Nicholas Clough, Tim Sheppard, Geoff Coverdale, Tony Wood, Ron Howe, Stewart Adkins, Rita Page, Lydia Clough, Ewart Cornfield, Alison Brewer, Cynthia Meek, Jean Cosslett, Dennis Page, Dick Enfield, Janice Hawkes, Mike Cosslett, June Smith, Derek Hunt, Tim Smith, Mandy Smith.
Chorus: Patricia Robinson, Jan Saunders, Edna Starling, Carole Turner, Jo Wood, Derek Collins, Brian Henderson, Ron Howe, Roger Munt, David Sanger, Tony Wood.
Stage manager, Audrey King; technical director, Ken Hawkes; stage crew, Les King, Mick Adams, Jim Fensom, John Reed, Philip Harris, Roger Clark, Caroline Fraser; properties, Ann Hunt, Sally Bell, Dorothy Reed, Liz Reed; lighting, Robin Dedman, Colin Andrews; assisted by Andrew Chalkley, Mark Rigby; make-up, June Smith; wardrobe, Alison Brewer, Lydia Clough, Nesta Hinchliffe; prompt, Kathryn Adkins; front of house, John Gunson programmes, June Locke; accompanist, Judith Flint.
My Fair Lady - Witham Operatic Society
LERNER and Loewe’s My Fair Lady is given a four-star airing by Witham Operatic this week.
Not much room for fancy choreography on the Public Hall stage, so Derek Collins' production wisely relied on bold, polished performances within a slick pacey show. Accompanied by an excellent pit orchestra, under Stephen Kenna, who played as if this were the seventieth night not the second.
There was little that was new just the usual things (monochrome Ascot, flowers for The Rain in Spain, for example) done very well. The polish permeated right down the cast list -- I've never heard the Poor Professor Higgins sequence done so well by the household, or the Luverly number so well backed by a costermonger male voice quartet.
Janet Collins, as Eliza, sang beautifully, and also managed to respect Shaw's lines and the character he created, even if her accent occasionally strayed north of Lissom Grove. Higgins' unfashionable views on language and women's liberation were suavely propounded by Tim Sheppard in an attractively relaxed performance, ably foiled by Nicholas Clough's polite Pickering. Stewart Adkins was a traditional Doolittle, and Malcolm Lowe, in the unrewarding role of Freddy, deservedly received warm applause for his Act One solo.
My Fair Lady
Witham Operatic Society
THIS production of My Fair Lady is a pronounced success and, wiv a little bit of luck, is likely to break all records.
Lavishly staged and dressed, the most efficient orchestra directed by Stephen Kenna, the humour of the piece is constantly underlined by producer Derek Collins at the top of his form.
Tim Sheppard as the desiccated professor of phonetics Henry Higgins and Janet Collins as Eliza, the flower girl from the streets, act together admirably. There is lively fun from agile Stewart Adkins as Doolittle the oratorical dustman and Malcolm Lowe makes a tunefully spineless Freddy.
The splendid chorus as rowdy East Enders or elegantly-plumed paraders at Ascot give constant delight and the fine effect of the whole thing must surely, as they used to say, have been put on regardless of expense.