My Fair Lady at Edinburgh Playhouse***** :the perfect show for Christmas

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Deep in the coldest winter imaginable, what you need is escapism - pure escapism - and My Fair Lady is the perfect show.

Booked in for a run through Christmas and New Year at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh it is simply glorious entertainment - a feast for all the senses.

The first major revival of Lerner and Loewe’s much-loved musical on tour for over 15 years is a joy to watch, indeed, admire.

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It’s a show that captures the magic of theatre as it transports you to a very different time with style and elegance, and sends you back out into the cold night air with a spring in your step. A near three hours of sheer escapism and magnificent entertainment. I adored it.

My Fair Lady (Pic: Marc Brenner)My Fair Lady (Pic: Marc Brenner)
My Fair Lady (Pic: Marc Brenner)

The story is one we all know; Eliza Doolittle (Charlotte Kennedy) is transformed from a Cockney flower seller into a ‘proper lady’ by linguistics professor (Michael D Xavier) who aims to pass her off as as duchess to win his wager with Colonel Pickering (John Middleton).

Kennedy and Xavier are sensational. They capture all the nuances of their developing relationship as her journey through the classes progresses, with Kennedy delivering some soaring vocals as well as great humour and vulnerability, while Xavier infuses his character with the utmost confidence it needs while showing us the doubts behind the mask as he tries to figure out what Eliza really means to him.

Adam Woodyatt - known to all for his role as Ian Beale in Eastenders - revels in his role as Eliza’s dad, and steals the second half with a belting rendition of I’m Getting Married In The Morning where the entire chorus lets down its hair and gains the longest, most sustained applause of the night.

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But there’s another soap star on stage you simply won’t recognise - John Middleton’s portrayal of Colonel Pickersing is sublime, and as far removed from his TV role as the Rev Ashley in Emmerdale.

My Fair Lady: Michael D Xavier, Charlotte Kennedy and John Middleton (Pic: Marc Brenner)My Fair Lady: Michael D Xavier, Charlotte Kennedy and John Middleton (Pic: Marc Brenner)
My Fair Lady: Michael D Xavier, Charlotte Kennedy and John Middleton (Pic: Marc Brenner)

Lesley Garrett is the other star name on the bill as Mrs Pearce, the down to earth housekeeper, and she makes her presence felt around the professor’s home as she manages much of his daily life, but it’s virtually a non-singing role so we don’t really get to hear hear her amazing voice.

Tom Liggins delivers a wonderful On the Street Where You Live, another delightful moment in the second half of a show which is simply wonderful.

The sets are a feast for the eyes. The professor’s house designed on a revolving centrepiece by Michael Yeargan is a work of art, and allows the cast to move from room to room to room as it turns.

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The use of the ensemble to set different scenes keeps the show moving along, and takes us from Wimpole Street to the Royal Opera House and back again with an elegance that complements the story.

The world may have changed since the original musical was released back in 1956, but My Fair Lady is still richly entertaining, and this touring version brings the wow factor of the West End to the Playhouse.

It is absolutely guaranteed to make your Christmas even more special.

My Fair Lady is at the Playhouse until January 7