Review: My Fair Lady at Leeds Playhouse

My Fair Lady is a collaboration between Leeds Playhouse and Opera North and at Leeds Playhouse Quarry Theatre. It tells the story of Eliza, a cockney flower girl who wants to better herself. She meets Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering and asks for lessons to help her achieve her ambition of running her own florist shop. Henry agrees and he and the Colonel have a bet that she can be passed off as a lady within a few months.

We attended the BSL signed performance on 7 June. Having some knowledge of British Sign Language I must congratulate the signer, whose description of songs and dialogue was excellent.

If you’ve not been in the Quarry Theatre, the set and stage are visible throughout the performance with changing scenery to reflect the various scenes. The set was cobblestone road with a building, an elevated area, staircases and some barrows with the Covent Garden arches in the background. The scenery moving to reflect the various scenes, inside Professor Higgins study, a pub and a garden.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for the Ascot Gavotte scene. This was cleverly designed with scenery and singing, with effective sound effects. Another scene utilised the rain system which is extremely effective. The sunrise and skies on the background were a credit to the lighting and sound designers (Guy and Sebastian). If you visit Leeds Playhouse Facebook page, there is a speeded-up video showing the set being made up.

Set in 1912 all the costumes were typical of the era. The main characters had several changes of costume, notably for the Ascot and Embassy ball scenes. Madeleine Boyd excelled herself with all the sets and costumes but a special mention of Eliza’s costume for the Embassy Ball which was quite regal, and she managed the staircase so well without holding it up.

The cast are younger than expected with Henry Higgins (John Hopkins) and Colonel Pickering (Dean Robinson) younger than we’ve previously seen in plays and the film. Considering the dancing and other antics whilst maintaining the singing, they need to be extremely fit. Henry and Eliza Doolittle (Katie Bird) bring a seriousness to the scenes where Henry is teaching Eliza, although at times Henry is very witty. Eliza’s change from cockney to elocution level English was excellent, maintaining the accents perfectly. Mrs Pearce (Helen Evora) the housekeeper showed compassion towards Eliza whilst reprimanding Henry and the Colonel.

Interaction between Eliza and her father (Richard Mosley-Evans) in several scenes was a delight especially the ‘get me to the church on time’ scene.

Get Me To The Church On Time: Katie Bird (Eliza Doolittle) with My Fair Lady company members Tom Smith, Satriya Krisna, Paul Gibson, Simon Grange © Pamela Raith

One of my favourite characters in My Fair Lady is Freddie (Ahmed Hamad) who is quite hapless and in love with Eliza and who has quite a domineering mother (played by Molly Barker). His voice and mannerisms were on character.

The singing throughout of all the memorable songs was well executed by the soloists and chorus. It is extremely difficult singing, dancing and interacting. There were also a couple of good agapello renditions in the Covent Garden scenes. The accompanying orchestra, which is behind the scenery, was conducted by Oliver Rundell.

Director James Brining has many productions behind him, and this particular musical was exceptionally good.

If you are now wondering about this musical production, even if you’ve seen the film or a different version, we highly recommend it.

My Fair Lady runs at Leeds Playhouse until 29 June 2024. Full details and tickets at:


This post was written by reader Barbara Beck in return for two free tickets, as part of South Leeds Goes To The Playhouse.

Photo: The company of My Fair Lady  © Pamela Raith


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