My Fair Lady at the Codford Woolstore

After years of thwarted attempts to obtain the licence for ‘My Fair Lady’ Woolstore Chairman Brenda Mears achieved her long held ambition to direct what proved to be a delightful and memorable show. Alan Jay Lerner had written the book and lyrics adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture ‘Pygmalion.’ His long- time collaborator Frederick Loewe was responsible for the music, provided through the run by Sarah Lister on piano, Percussionist Matt Spencer, Jane Beaumont on the clarinet and Bass player Ryan Potter.

Barbara Barton-Smith’s sets were stunning, the opening scene outside Covent Garden and in Professor Higgins library created exactly the perfect backdrop to the much loved story. It was in the market that we first meet our principle characters, Eliza Doolittle the cockney flower girl, who has to metamorphize into a lady. Hannah Sandu’s performance was a tour de force, an accomplished actress with a remarkable singing voice, she was able to make the vocal transition from her humble beginnings through the stumbling vowels to the elocution of the upper class totally believable.

In his first appearance at the Woolstore Richard Munro inhabited the skin of Professor Henry Higgins from the moment he came on stage. Despite his character being egotistical and totally oblivious of the sensitivities of others, he managed to repel and charm in equal measure. The scene where he and Colonel Pickering ( Andrew Mozely at his most bumbling but engaging) talk over Eliza, ignoring all her hard work and taking credit for the transformation was a masterly performance from each of the actors. Eliza very obviously furious and upset in equal measure.

Alfred Doolittle as played by Robin Scard proved to be an appealing rascal, wheedling money from Eliza, attempting then back tracking after an unsuccessful attempt to blackmail Professor Higgins. My favourite scene with Doolittle was when having come into money having been prudent with his bribe, he finds affluence little to his liking. The hangdog way he prepares for his wedding was comic and touching in equal measure.

Mrs Pearce, the stoic housekeeper, was obviously the voice of reason in the chaotic bachelor Higgins household. Charlotte Mozely ‘s subtle performance captured the nuances of very contained emotions.

Eliza’s admirer Freddy gave a creditable rendition of ‘On the street where you live.’ He was played with enthusiasm by David Faulkner-Bryant who debuted at the Woolstore as Billy Barnacle in last years pantomime, ‘Treasure Island.’ The role of his mother, the snooty Mrs Eynsford-Hill was played by Felicity Scard in an all too brief appearance.

Angus Bramwell was exuberant as the colourfully frenetic Professor Zoltan Karpathy. David North appeared in various guises- innkeeper/policeman/ butler all looking and sounding very different, while Cathrine Hayne made an elegant and stately appearance as Henry Higgins aristocratic mother.

‘My Fair Lady’ is one of the ultimate feel good shows, this beautifully costumed ( by Sheila Williamson assisted by Alison Phillips) production was immaculately cast, and proved to be an outstanding success with audiences over five performances. Christine Powell was the Assistant Director as well as appearing briefly as Romanian royalty at the Transylvanian Embassy Ball choreographed by Cherry- Blasdale-Holmes. Behind the scenes Lighting was provided by Antony Lister and Sound by Phillip Stunnell. Set and prop building, scenery painting, programme designing, prompting and back stage are war the unsung heroes of every production. The Woolstore Company runs like a well- oiled machine all with willing and talented volunteers.

Romy Wyeth