Reviews are in for Bartlett Sher’s West End revival of My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum.
Starring Amara Okereke as Eliza Doolittle and Harry Hadden-Paton as Henry Higgins with Dame Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs Higgins.
Lead supporting cast includes Maureen Beattie as Mrs Pearce, Sharif Afifi as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Stephen K Amos as Alfred P. Doolittle, and Malcolm Sinclair as Colonel Pickering.
The Evening Standard’s Nick Curtis said “Sher’s production repackages this witty, well-crafted piece of work for a new generation” where ” Amara Okereke absolutely smashes it in Bartlett Sher’s joyful staging”. The Guardian’s chief critic Arifa Akbar felt the show was “the definition of a comforting night out at the theatre” but added that it was “solid, not spectacular”.
Sher’s blockbuster new production of Lerner & Loewe’s adored musical features 36 musicians from the English National Opera’s award-winning Orchestra playing the wonderful score that includes the classic songs “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
The show has a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture Pygmalion.
Book tickets to My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum
Read a round-up of reviews for My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum.
My Fair Lady reviews
"A new West End leading lady is born in this sumptuous new production "
"Bartlett Sher gives London a sumptuous new production of this Broadway classic, that revels in the My Fair Lady cliches of Edwardian London seen through American eyes"
"Fresh and sparky, with a bona fide star in Amara Okereke"
"Bartlett Sher’s production repackages this witty, well-crafted piece of work for a new generation"
"[Amara is] 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."
" Malcolm Sinclair was born to play Higgins’ benign, drifty compatriot Colonel Pickering. Stephen K Amos brings a comedian’s timing and delivery, if not the finest singing voice, to the part of Eliza’s dustman dad, Alfred. And here is Vanessa Redgrave, frail but game, snipping off devastating apercus as Higgins’s mum."
"That Eliza is black reinforces the class divisions between her and Higgins when they are together, but only subconsciously, as there’s colourblind casting of proles and aristocrats throughout, like in Bridgerton. And as with Bridgerton, you wonder why someone hasn’t done this before."
"My Fair Lady is so witty and well-crafted it’s hard to do a duff version, given enough resources, and this show has plenty. But it’s harder still to make it feel fresh. Sher manages it and has surely also turned Okerere from a promising actress into a bona fide star."
"Perfectly elegant, ever so sedate"
"This garlanded production of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s musical, fresh from Broadway, is the definition of a comforting night out at the theatre. It glides from one well-loved song to the next on an elegantly twirling set designed by Michael Yeargan."
"A bit more power and it would be really lovely"
"a very decent, very stylish, eventually quite audacious My Fair Lady. Not, though, a great one. Or certainly not on opening night."
"My Fair Lady is always diverting, less often transporting. Michael Yeargan’s sets transport us from bare-stage blue to Covent Garden pillars before you even realise it."
"A watershed production, but not a benchmark"
"Amara Okereke flowers opposite Vanessa Redgrave, but the staging is underpowered"
"Lead performances outshine the production"
"The musical’s biggest switch is Eliza’s from flower girl to lady, a transition made convincing by Amara Okereke with both her bright soprano and real warmth. Her finest moment – and of the whole production – is the show’s pivot in the masterly The Rain in Spain, in which Okereke beautifully shows Eliza’s extended understanding of how, in order to change how she speaks, she has to truly listen.
Elsewhere, she is pushed too hard by Sher’s direction that turns scenes into effortful display, so much so that the chemistry between her and Higgins is largely theoretical. Sher is so busy presenting his directorial case for everything that the actual writing – in both the scenes and songs – is, ironically, not allowed to speak."
"This fractionally tweaked Broadway production of the classic musical is pleasant but won’t win over any doubters"
"Amara Okereke plays cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle with vocal aplomb: her voice soars through much-loved songs like 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly', making them a heart-rending highlight of the show. But she also makes Eliza a bit of a caricature. When she’s called insults like a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ by patronising upper-class phonetics expert Henry Higgins she's not crushed – she physically shoves him out the room, in moments of physical comedy that mask her vulnerability in the moment. And as Higgins, Harry Hadden-Paton lacks the haughty charisma and underlying menace needed to give their relationship real snap."
"London's first revival in 21 years is lavish and absolutely loverly"
"The smash Broadway revival brings Lerner and Loewe's classic musical back to the London stage for the first time in 21 years. With the West End groaning under endless brutally radical 'modern' productions, this is rather reassuringly old-fashioned. Playing at the Coliseum, it is, as Eliza would say, absolutely 'loverly.'"
"Catherine Zuber's costumes are undeniably classy and there was some applause for Eliza's final bejeweled Embassy Ball concoction. The Ascot races group scene was mutedly tasteful but you might yearn for the exquisite excess of Cecil Beaton's glorious creations from the film. There were some fabulously plumed hats but no real 'wow' moments.
Indeed, the whole production and pacing is a little too elegant, gliding elegantly along like a swan you might admire on a nearby river, but never really making a splash."
"My Fair Lady reminded me why we go to West End shows"
"From the moment the overture starts swirling around the Coliseum, My Fair Lady is daringly sumptuous. Swooping melodies? Painted backcloths? Vast Edwardian hats and rich lighting? This Bartlett Sher production is unashamedly sensuous. Such things were once the reason we went to West End shows, handing over our precious spondulicks to be transported, rather than lectured at, and here Sher restores a mission to entertain and enchant."
"Amara Okereke shines as Eliza Doolittle in Bartlett Sher’s glossy musical"
"Director wrings every last drop of comic potential out of classic musical"
"... Amara Okereke is that star. As Eliza Doolittle, the 25-year-old gives one of the most enthralling stage performances of the year, transforming from a gobby Cockney flower seller to a member of the genteel English middle classes at the hands of Professor Henry Higgins (Harry Hadden-Paton). The show, with its changed ending, may divide musical theatre purists, but there’s no denying Okereke’s talent."
"Never mind that Amara Okereke is the first black Eliza Doolittle in a West End production of this joyous musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.
First and foremost, Miss Okereke is quite simply a fabulous Eliza. She’d very likely be hailed down the East End not so much a ‘diamond geezer’ as a diamond diva."
"Thanks to sedate scene changes and a rather comfortable musical tempo, the show does feel like its full three hours. Acoustically, it’s a little echoey, too. But it still twinkles nicely, thanks to Okereke’s gem of a performance."
"Amara Okereke dazzles as Eliza Doolittle"
"Bartlett Sher’s production, a 2018 hit at New York’s Lincoln Centre, is pretty to look at. And in Amara Okereke, it has a dazzling Eliza Doolittle. But while the familiar score sounds as lush as ever, it’s all a bit bland."
"Peak Edwardiana: Bartlett Sher’s My Fair Lady is the real deal"
"In an age of zippy, 70 minute two-handers – and with gnat level concentration spans destroyed by instant gratification – is there still the appetite for a three-hour long production? With elegantly twirling sets and actors so accomplished there absolutely ought to be – and you’d be a fool to miss it."