…if the current brilliant production of ‘My Fair Lady’ at the Mill at Sonning, which stars 2012 Julian Slade Award Winner Bethan Nash as Eliza Doolittle, were to be transferred to the West End or went on tour around all the best city theatres in the country!”SAYS ADRIAN SLADE January 2018
It certainly deserved to but sadly it didn’t because ‘My Fair Lady’ is such a valuable theatrical property that the right to perform it on stage in London is jealously guarded, and even outside London you have to be a very special person to get permission. Luckily Sally Hughes, managing & artistic director of Sonning, is such a person because she so obviously knows what to do with a musical. She did it last year with a very lively, and at times tear-jerking, production of’ ‘High Society’, which also starred Bethan Nash, on that occasion in the Grace Kelly part of Tracy Samantha Lord. Over last Christmas Sally Hughes, her director and choreographer Joseph Pitcher and her musical director Joe Bunker extracted brilliant performances from the whole cast of ‘My Fair Lady’ and the audiences clearly loved every minute of the characterisations they all achieve and the energy with which they all perform their songs and their dances. Bethan’s ultimate transformation from the cockney Eliza to the lady Eliza is a magnificent piece of acting, matched by her singing of all Eliza’s very challenging songs. Martin Fisher, as Professor Higgins, is an ineffably cool and often cruel foil to the poor girl who has enough to do coping with her embarrassing father Alfred Doolittle without also being insulted by Higgins at almost every turn, even after she passes her test as a lady.
Phil Snowden’s portrayal of Doolittle must be the best yet seen on stage or screen. He is so wonderfully, overpoweringly vulgar in his acting, singing and dancing that he and his dancing support brings audiences to their feet, probably every night as they certainly did with ours.
There is not a weak link in this magnificent production and it is a joy to see Shaw’s clever plot and dialogue, Lerner and Loewe’s brilliant adaptation and songs matched from all corners by such intelligently thought through performances, often vigorously executed, by all the other members of a superb cast.
4 **** from Robert Gore-Langton in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY (7.1.2018) “…. despite the huge, rather smothering reputation of the film (starring Rex Harrison and Audrety Hepburn), the musical comes up fresh, even re-invigorated in this pocket production by Joseph Pitcher who both directs and choreographs. This version has only 12 actors and 4 (out off sight) musicians but it gets across the story with pace and panache,………….Bethan Nash is fine-voiced, proud Eliza who is the victim of such gross sexism and domestic abuse (mostly from ‘Martin Fisher’s sprightly young Higgins’) that you wonder why today’s right-on theatre police haven’t banned this show for good……Phil Snowden is a wonderfully feisty geezer as Eliza’s dustman Dad. ” .
MORE ABOUT BETHAN NASH
‘HIGH SOCIETY’ ‘EMMA’ ‘ROBIN HOOD’
Following her considerable critical success in January and February last year in in Cole Porter’s ‘High Society’ at The Mill at Sonning,she played Emma in a new Jane Austen adaptation of ‘Emma’ by Tim Luscombe for The Production Exchange.. The play opened in late May in the Leatherhead Theatre and then toured through June and July at Guildford, Bath, Oxford, Malvern and Cambridge. When the run of ‘My Fair Lady’ at The Mill at Sonning is over, She will then be playing Little Joan aka ‘Little John’ in‘ Robin Hood’ at The Old Market Theatre in Brighton in an adaptation by New Mutiny, a company she helped to found, ‘