PRiMA proves that amateur theatre is not what it seems in its charming production of My Fair Lady.
Following up from a successful production of Hairspray, Pine Rivers Musical Association (PRiMA) continues to go from strength to strength with its latest offering, My Fair Lady.
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s classic Pygmalion, My Fair Lady is the story of phonetics professor Henry Higgins as he faces the challenge of turning cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a duchess in time for the Embassy Ball. But in the aftermath of the celebration, will Eliza get what she wants most, security and the heart of her beloved “Professor ‘iggins”?
The role of Eliza is coveted by many a female thespian. Vocally, the part is a challenge for even the most accomplished of singers. Audrey Hepburn famously beat out Julie Andrews (who played opposite Rex Harrison in the original stage version) for the part, only to have her vocals dubbed. Yet Stacie Hobbs makes it look easy.
From the moment she steps on stage selling flowers in Covent Garden, grimy and enrobed in a tatty dress, Hobbs embodies Eliza. Whether she’s struggling to make a living on the streets or matching wits with Professor Higgins, the audience was captivated. From the wistful Wouldn’t it be Loverley? to the delightful I Could Have Danced All Night, vocally Hobbs can mix it with the best, and often has. Previously she has performed in amateur productions of Annie, Singin’ in the Rain and Hairspray.
Hobbs’ counterpart Jim Price’s (Professor Higgins) talent is not to be ignored either. Originally from New Zealand, he has an extensive history of treading the boards, with roles in Les Miserables, Chicago and 42nd Street, to name but a few. His take on the pompous professor is in perfect cohesion with the charm Hobbs exudes as Eliza.
The seamlessness of Hobbs and Price’s performance is only enhanced by the professionalism of their colleagues, including the somewhat comical asides of Colin Rhys-Jones (Colonel Pickering) and Walter Lago (Alfred P. Doolittle). Not only are the other actors impressive but their cohesiveness improved the overall production’s quality.
As an amateur musical association undertaking a production of such renown as My Fair Lady, complete with all its costume and set changes, PRiMA could be forgiven a mistake or two. However, all seemed to progress well when, in the semi-darkness of a scene change, both actors and backstage crew worked together to make sure the transitions went as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
PRiMA’s adaptation of My Fair Lady goes a long way in improving people’s perception of amateur theatre as inferior. Should their future performances be as good as this one, PRiMA certainly has a bright future.