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My Fair Lady - Only in McGregor

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Howzat! A theatrical hat-trick plus one as Atholl Hay and his impressive cast present the fourth consecutive end-of-year triumph to locals and visitors from near and far. A brilliant adaptation of the timeless classic that is My Fair Lady exploded onto the little Wahnfried stage last week, and, after a short break over the New Year holiday, will resume behind the footlights for a scintillating start to 2016.

As Jean van Elden of Durban Theatre Awards has already put up a brief review of the musical on Facebook – one with which we all agree enthusiastically – I am going to quote some of it here, and then focus on a more intimate villagy write-up to pay tribute to a bunch of talented, dedicated, hard-working McGregor locals.

Van Elden: “An impressive well-crafted piece of theatre by an extremely talented cast of performers… A cleverly adapted, succinct script retained the essence of George Bernard Shaw's writing and delivered the charm of a full-length stage production… Beautiful voices, great energy and sincere polished performances were delivered by all.”

Hear, hear – or should that be “ear, ear.”

Mary Corpe is a wonderful Eliza, which we expected her to be, and impresses as she subtly changes accents from London cockney to queen’s English. John Hargreaves is a natural for Professor Higgins, and fulfils a demanding singing and talking role with his usual professional sang-froid. David Magner is a welcome addition to the core of McGregor players, lessening his military aloofness as he warms to his role in support of Eliza. Mrs Pearce, Professor Higgins’ housekeeper, is beautifully portrayed by Barbara Jacobs, while Atholl Hay manages to include a convincing picture of a lovelorn Freddy Eynsford-Hill in spite of demands as director. Gentle Lisa van Zyl-Jones comes across as a delightfully querulous mother to Henry Higgins, while the trio - which constitute the roles of chorus, flower-sellers, maids and race-goers – presents an admirable example of multi-faceted talent: singers, dancers and quick-change artistes. Heidi Muller, Corli van Wyk and Ilana van der Colff , take a bow.

I would like to comment on the impressive quality of costumes – no mention of a wardrobe mistress, but someone (or maybe more than one) deserves applause, while Debbie Mosca does sterling work on the cast’s hair and makeup. As usual, Pieter Holloway sits quietly on one side, ensuring the lighting is faultless, while Michael MacKenzie fulfils the nail-biting post of sound operator – of course he and Freddie are generous hosts as well, welcoming audiences to their charming theatrical venue Wahnfried, which, thanks to a programme of continuous and classy entertainment, has made a difference to many McGregor lives.

As the Worst End Theatre Company’s January production comes to an end, it’s possible to hear My Fair Lady’s classic tunes being whistled and hummed all over McGregor. Perhaps we can get some of that rain on the Spanish plain diverted south as well.

Myrna Robins. Dec 31, 2015.

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