South Staffs Musical Theatre Company stood back from the crush of productions that celebrated the 50th anniversary of My Fair Lady in 2006 – but it will be stepping up to the mark with its own version at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, in October.
I note, incidentally, that the group’s publicity calls Eliza Doolittle a Cockney. It’s a popular misconception and one with which I was happily going along until I was pulled up short two years ago by a woman who pointed out that both in the musical and in Pygmalion, the play on which it is based, Professor Higgins says she was born in Lisson Grove.
This is a road from Marylebone to St John’s Wood and it is in London NW1 – well beyond the sounds of Bow Bells, which have to be audible in the birthplace of anyone claiming Cockney origins.
Quite apart from this, I can’t help wondering whether South Staffs will manage to avoid at least some of the pitfalls into which productions of My Fair Lady always seem to fall. Will Higgins, for instance proclaim his devotion to the English language despite being equally devoted to the superfluous R, as in “I know your nerves are as roar as meat in a butcher’s window”? Will he insist on complaining that Eliza has hurled his slippers at his head, when in every production I’ve seen they have been aimed unerringly at the floor in front of him?
We shall see. Incidentally, Dudley Little Theatre opens with Pygmalion on May 13,
* How’s this for a new take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Demetrius is so broke that he needs Hermia’s money to support his family. Egeus is now Egea, a bitter widow, jealous of Hippolyta for taking her future second husband. Helena and Demetrius have a romantic, not comic encounter in the wood.
Puck and the First Fairy have something going on – and their eyes on the throne – as they share their life and their lines. There’s more, lots more. All will be revealed when youth group Stage 2 – 96 of them on stage, five in the crew and 15 front-of-house – launch Liz Light’s innovative studio production at Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre next Wednesday.
It’s the latest offering from a group which, inevitably, changes personnel more frequently and more drastically than any adult theatre society. Liz is the constant factor and she unfailingly works wonders with her young charges.
* WHAT’S ON:
Women’s Writes: Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa (to tomorrow);
Something Old, Something New: The Arcadians, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to tomorrow);
The Rivals: Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to April 25);
Steel Magnolias: Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth (Apr 20-25);
The Fate of Jeremy Visick: Hall Green Little Theatre Youth Theatre (Apr 20-25);
The Card: Studley Operatic Society, Palace Theatre, Redditch (Apr 21-25);
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Stage 2, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Apr 21-25);
The Ghost Train: Lapworth Players, Lapworth Village Hall, Apr 23-25).