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Sunday, November 8, 2009


(Pic by Val Adamson: Liza Doolittle (Lisa Bobbert) dreams wistfully in “Wouldn't it be Loverly”)

Playhouse Company promises sumptuous staging of one of the world’s all-time box office hits.

The Playhouse Company’s My Fair Lady, presented in partnership with East Coast Radio, promises to be one of the hottest theatre tickets in Durban this festive season. One of the world’s all-time box office hit shows, the much-loved musical opens on November 20 in a sumptuous staging directed by and starring multi-award-winning Ralph Lawson, one of South Africa’s leading theatre luminaries. With spectacular new set designs by theatre whiz Andrew Botha and Stan Knight, this classic rags-to-riches tale stars Lisa Bobbert (Abbamaniacs, My Fair Lady, Little Shop of Horrors) and Gina Shmukler (Chess, Unforgettable, Show Boat), who will alternate in the lead role as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower-seller who is transformed into a high society lady.

According to director Ralph Lawson, who directed a highly successful production of the musical in Cape Town last year, much of the show’s phenomenal appeal with modern audiences stems from its historical ‘pedigree’. “Adapted from the great British dramatist George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, which premiered in 1913, My Fair Lady boasts one of the feistiest heroines in show business,” says Lawson. “As Eliza rises from obscurity, she carries the goodwill of the audience with her all the way. We delight in her ability to stand up for herself, as she learns life’s painful lessons. Without labouring the point, I see her as Shaw’s liberated ‘new woman’. She stems directly from his vision of strong, independent womanhood, as was depicted in several of his plays”.

“Today’s audiences look for hard-core substance as well as gloss in their entertainment: it’s the gritty aspect of Eliza, as well as her loveable side, that makes her so appealing. We are fortunate to have two highly experienced and talented actresses sharing, and making the most of, this great role”.

Lawson says he has aimed for a fresh slant in directing the piece for the Playhouse. “The costumes aside, we are going for a totally different look to that seen in this venue three years ago. I have also tried to instil a strong touch of realism in the way the characters are played. The emotions depicted in this work are true-to-life.”

My Fair Lady premiered on Broadway in 1956, with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. It is set to a score by Frederick Loewe which comprises a string of hit numbers that are amongst the most enduring in the history of show business. The Playhouse production has choreography by Mark Hawkins, costumes by Neil Stuart-Harris and a stellar cast who will perform to the live accompaniment of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Naum Rousine. Themi Venturas reprises his award-winning 2006 portrayal of the delightful reprobate, Alfred Doolittle, and Frank Graham and Cobus Venter return to their roles as Colonel Pickering and Freddie Eynsford-Hill respectively.

The show’s hit numbers include Why Can't the English?, Wouldn't It Be Luverly?, With a Little Bit o' Luck, I'm an Ordinary Man, Just You Wait, The Rain in Spain, I Could Have Danced All Night, Ascot Gavotte, On the Street Where You Live, You Did It, Show Me, Get Me to the Church On Time, A Hymn to Him, Without You and I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face.

Prebooked tickets range from R80 to R120. Booking is at Computicket, on 083 915 8000 or online at, or call 031-369 9540. Special low priced performances for groups are available: contact Andre-B van Wyk on 031-369 9407 or email