Words by Alan Jay Lerner and Music by Frederick Loewe
Southampton Guidhall,
March 1998
Cast List
Mrs. Pearce
Colonel Pickering
Zoltan Karpathy
Alfred P. Doolittle
Mrs. Higgins
Henry Higgins
Eliza Doolittle
Mrs. Eynesford-Hill
Freddy Eyncsford-Hill

Notes on this performance

88. My Fair Lady 

Not enough Reg Bath…

The first foray into the world of musicals with Fiddler on the Roof had proved to be an enjoyable and profitable experience, so the Society was keen for ‘more of the same’ and, this time, Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady was the choice. To give it the best chance of success possible, Philippa Taylor and Paul Spanton, the directing team for Fiddler, were engaged to bring everything to fruition. Co-incidentally, the pair had actually worked together on yet another musical, Oliver!, many years before when they were both teaching at the same school in the New Forest.

Although KJC Mobile Phones sponsored the show for £3000, a North Guild grant was not forthcoming and the very small profit from The Mikado made the Committee somewhat nervous about performing in that venue again. Even with a proven popular show like My Fair Lady, there would be a large royalty bill to pay and many more costumes than usual to hire.

The review in the Echo obviously mentioned Eliza and Higgins, but it does seem strange that Freddy (Paul Webb), Alfred Doolittle (David Jupp), Mrs Higgins (Clare Minns) and Pickering (John Burrows) were all overlooked. ‘Members of Southampton Operatic Society were on fine form for this production which runs until tonight.’  (David Rayner did make a complaint about the lateness of the review.) ‘Alison Vincent’s acting in the part of Eliza was great. She was very expressive when portraying the emotions of the cockney flower girl. But at times her voice didn’t carry over the accomplished strains of the Southampton City Orchestra. David Rayner relished the role of Henry Higgins, particularly when it came to Lerner and Loewe’s more condescending lines.

The chorus members, under the leadership of Paul Spanton, were strong and tuneful. One extremely effective scene was Higgins’ servants bemoaning their master’s task, singing “Poor Professor Higgins”. The sound and vision in this scene was stunning, well beyond the usual amateur operatics. Tony Lawther’s lighting was excellent here.

What a shame we didn’t hear the voice of Reg Bath more often. Perhaps more solo opportunities in SOS’s next production, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer. The programme explains money for design was spent on costumes rather than props for this production. It was well worthwhile.’ Reg Bath (who played Lord Boxington, Second Cockney and a Servant) rightly has many admirers but he must have been somewhat surprised to find himself singled out for such a special mention. Philippa felt that the rehearsal period was too long, the set was not quite as expected and the theatre’s lack of lighting resulted in several dark areas but, despite that, there was no shortage of praise for what was an impressive production. 

My Fair Lady did sell very well, taking nearly £17000 at the box office (£4500 more than The Mikado!)  but, as feared, the costumes were expensive (£1447) and the charge for royalties was £3314, resulting in a minor loss of £68.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Pickering

John Burrows (Colonel Pickering), David Rayner (Henry Higgins), Alison Vincent (Eliza Doolittle)

Photo of Doolittle

Neil Maitland, David Jupp (Alfred P Doolittle), Tony Austin

Photo of Sudy

David Rayner (Henry Higgins) and Alison Vincent (Eliza Doolittle)

Photo of Freddie

Paul Webb (Freddy Eyncsford-Hill) and Adrienne Bath (Mrs Pearce)

Photo os Servants

Alison Vincent (Eliza Doolittle), John Burrows (Colonel Pickering), Adrienne Bath (Mrs Pearce), David Rayner (Henry Higgins) and servants