IT takes talent and chutzpah to mount a production of My Fair Lady, and the young members of Salisbury’s Studio Youth Theatre have both in spades.
Lerner and Loewe’s musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, famously filmed with designs by Cecil Beaton, really leaves no scope for faltering. The cast are either what is now derogatorily known as “posh toffs” or Cockneys whose accents immediately identify their natal streets.
In the middle is Eliza Doolittle, a Covent Garden flower seller who wants to improve her chances in life by learning to “talk proper.” Her teacher is the arrogant, heartless and self-congratulating Prof Henry Higgins.
Both of these roles, as well as that of Eliza’s father Alfred Doolittle, require precision timing, perfect pronunciation and huge charm, and that’s just what they get from Elly Wood (one of two alternate Elizas), Hugo Clark and Philipp Nikolin.
Director Peter McAuley, who also designed the sound and lighting, has coaxed splendid performances from his 25-strong casts (alternating the title role), and the costume makers and dressers have managed to create the classic scenes – the Ascot Gavotte, the Embassy Ball, the Covent Garden flower market – with simple sets.
Hugo Clark is a charismatically convincing Higgins, suave and elegant beyond his years and with just enough charm to make the ending acceptable.
Elly Wood brings gusto and wounded pride to a beautifully sung Eliza, and Philipp Nikolin’s Doolittle is a sheer delight as is his terrifically contrasted “hairy hound from Budapest” . Matt Gray is a bumbling and loveable Col Pickering and Ellen Murley as kindly Mrs Pearce, with Cassia Wooley as the exasperated Mrs Higgins, mother of the impossible Henry. Adam Pinnock is the love-lorn Freddy.
There are few seats for the rest of the run, until Saturday 22nd, but get one if you can. It’s a stunning show.
It would have been perfect were it not for the number of very visible trainers, but then getting the right shoes was probably a request too far.