Felsted Performs 'My Fair Lady'
By Melanie Donaldson, Director of Performing Arts
Pupils and staff had the pleasure to mount 5 wonderful performances of ‘My Fair Lady’ for the Felsted Senior School production.
46 actors from Year 9 to U6th took to the stage, ably supported by 3 Assistant Directors, 1 Assistant Choreographer, 7 Stage crew, 5 Musicians, 9 Hair & Makeup artists, 5 Lighting technicians, 5 sound technicians and 4 Marketing Associates!
The mood amongst all was simply electric and the audience could sense the fun that all involved were having on stage.
‘My Fair Lady’ is many people's favourite musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’; a poor Cockney flower girl (Eliza) overhears an arrogant linguistics professor (Higgins) casually bet that he could make her acceptable to Edwardian society by teaching her “English”. Lerner’s musical omits much of the politics in Shaw’s original but the problematic theme about gender and who must change in order to conform, could not be more relevant to a 2021 cast, crew and audience. In a departure from convention, we chose to cast an outstanding female performer, Helen Matthews to play Higgins; in one fell swoop we wished to turn the Edwardian misogyny on its head, retaining the comedy, but making songs like ‘Hymn to him’ ironic. I believe that the show balanced entertainment with a much more modern outlook and this was achieved due to Helen’s exceptional talent in performing the role.
The show was double cast and simply fantastic. The audiences were lively and enthralled by the many familiar iconic songs, especially ‘Wouldn’t it be Loverly’, ‘A Little Bit of Luck’, ‘I could have danced all night’, ‘On the street where you live’ and ‘Get me to the Church’. It has been our pleasure to witness the stage (and crew) debut of many of the pupils and to see some of our U6th perform in their last Senior School Show having performed every year since their arrival at Felsted (even during the pandemic)!
Every actor brought their own nuance to the role and we have been overwhelmed by the messages, emails of thanks and praise that have filled our inboxes / pigeon holes subsequent to the show. Here is a small selection of the audience response:
Last night I saw the school production of My Fair Lady. It was truly joyous. I found the vocal performances captivating and quite wonderful…..The players, crew and musicians should all be commended.
It was definitely a wonderful Felsted moment and we felt lucky to be able to come and see such a great live performance.
I watched My Fair Lady last night and was very impressed with the delivery of the show. The singing and dancing by all the cast was brilliant as well as the acting. The set and costumes were fabulous as well. I also loved the pop up horses! I can't wait for the next show again. Well done Felsted!
Finally I would like to say thank you to all the Staff that were involved in the production, your contribution has been absolutely invaluable. A special mention for ‘Outstanding dedication’ must go to Howard Smith, our Venue Manager and absolute hero in the Performing Arts Department. He not only designed and constructed the set but also rigged the lighting and sound, supported the entire crew through the performances but then worked through the night on Saturday to dismantle much of the set to facilitate a normal return to the Grignon Hall in readiness for the mock exams. Now, we look forward to our Year 9 & 10 productions due to be performed just before Easter.
💥Amazing opening night of #MyFairLady yesterday with these fantastic musicians in the pit band! Team @felstedmusic @MariellaB_ @sanapercussion @sheshajmusic @ccpeek11 Kaylea and Annalise. @GarnettsHouse @MontsHouse @stockshouse @HouseManor @WindsorsHouse @ThorneHouse19 pic.twitter.com/mCOt3J66zE— Sylvia Abu-Jabir 🇵🇸 (@Sylvieaj) November 18, 2021