Book and Lyrics By Alan Jay Lerner

Music By Frederic Loewe

"Yes, you squashed cabbage leaf, you disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns, you incarnate insult to the English language; I could pass you off as the Queen of Sheba." ~ Henry Higgins

And so he does!

This fantastic show opened in Penarth before travelling to Abergavenny in March 2019. Paul Buckle was in the Director's chair once more, determined to bring a new slant to this old classic. One of the main challenges he faced is the one the audience typically faces, it is too long. But, with some artful cuts in dialogue and in verses in songs and of scenes, he took over 40 minutes from this usually 3 hour plus show. The result, when combined with simple and effective staging, resulted in a fast paced and poignant show.

The stage was dominated by three huge pillars which turned and revealed the inside of Professor Higgin's study. The opulent wallpapered walls, the abundance of weird looking machines and piles of books made this every inch the eccentrics' home.

The eccentric being Henry Higgins, played assuredly by Shane Rose-Goodsir who gave us a new portrayal of this iconic role. Why does Professor Higgins have to be an old man? In today's #MeToo era the thought of an older man manipulating a young girl does not sit easy. Shane brought a fresh approach which emphasised his singularity, his precise ways and the very human introverted nature of the character who lacked any type of empathy for his subject (that is until the end). The subject was of course Eliza Doolittle, played by Fern O'Brien-Grant beautifully, inside and out. She was feisty, knock-about and wonderfully dirty but transformed into the beautiful, challenging princess. Every night there was a gasp at her transformation as she went to the Embassy Ball. Both Shane and Fern had the bulk of the libretto and singing; they were professional throughout and pitch perfect. A coupling that was believable and very touching.

They were ably supported by Ruairidh as the supportive Colonel Pickering, with a twinkle in his eye and always a kind word in defence of Eliza. The brash yet philosophical Alfred P Doolittle, played by Neil Davies, who bewildered and bemused everyone and brought the house down with his renditions of "A Little Bit Of Luck" and "I'm Getting Married In The Morning". Freddy was played by Mat Hole in his first appearance with Concept Players. A handsomely assured and beautiful sung performance - you could hear the sighs in the audience as he started to sing "On The Street Where You Live". Judy Harrhy was imperiously stiff but kind as Mrs Higgins and Helen Windsor was fantastically forthright with her troublesome employer. And into this mix, the Queen Of Transylvania, a bevy of Cockneys, a troupe of exasperated servants and the elegance of Ascot and this was yet another glorious ensemble piece.

Musical Direction was given by Christopher Fossey who coached and supported all the Company to give fine performances, and the small but perfectly formed band sounded wonderful. Choreography was arresting and fun, superbly handled by Adam Pitt. Sound and lights from Laura, Kevin and Ffion along with the backstage crew completed the production.

Oh wait! What about the costumes? Money was lavished on new costumes which epitomised the era and the Embassy and Ascot scenes were spectacular. There ere suitable "Oohs" and "Ahhs" every night. The hats and costumes were made within the Company and deserved a bow of their own. Paul and Fiona, with the rest of the wardrobe team, did us proud.

So not much else to say  except that this was a fantastic show that nearly sold out every night. It truly was "loverley"!



"What was that?"

Alfred P Doolittle

The Cockneys!

The Queen of Transylvania arrives

But not all things go soothly

Eliza berating the hapless Freddy

The end. Or is it?