Southern Daily Echo
by Abby Cullen
This well-loved tale of Eliza’s transformation from flower girl to lady is full of clever, witty, dialogue and show-stopping chorus numbers, which this dynamic company exploited to the full.
The talented cast were all superb and Nicky Burgess was enchanting as Eliza Doolittle. Christian Hull was powerful and commanded the stage as the pompous Professor Higgins. The supporting cast gave accurate characterisations and outstanding vocal performances.
John Dempster’s excellent musical direction and David Turner’s slick stage direction ensured that the pace of the show was maintained throughout. The ironic comedy of the piece was brought out fully, particularly in the Ascot scene. The strong chorus were used to full effect, particularly in I’m Getting Married in the Morning.
Spectacular costumes (which at one point provoked spontaneous applause), imaginative choreography and a powerful chorus, created a stunning show.
by Lesley Bates
By George she’s got it! whispered the audience as Nicky Burgess’s Eliza Doolittle triumphantly told them in beautifully pronounced English about the rainfall in Spain.
If ever an actress nailed a part, Nicky nailed this one. She was grubby and perky, a right Cockney sparrer, as Eliza the squashed cabbage leaf of a flower girl, but she blossomed into a lady of grace and fragile vulnerability, star quality shinning through and a voice to match. Nor was she the only one to sparkle in a production that showed off the society at the top of its form as it started the countdown to its centenary year in 2008. David Coxon swaggered on to the stage like a man who knows he has landed a plum role among plum roles. Alfred Doolittle is a gift and Mr Coxon seized it joyfully, leading roistering versions of Get Me To The Church and With a Little Bit of Luck. There was sterling work too from Christian Jull, smug and testy as Henry Higgins, Geoff Heard’s gentle old buffer of a Pickering and Camilla Burgess, inwardly sighing as Higgin’s long-suffering mother. Young Liam Marcellino gave a confident rendering of lovelorn Freddie’s On The Street Where You Live, Fionne Harrington was quietly disapproving as housekeeper Mrs Pearce and Carole Birch brimmed full of for-blimey as Mrs Hopkins.
It all looked marvellous too, with the company gorgeous in pastel for the Ascot gavotte. Full marks to Director David Turner and Musical Director John Dempster for bringing out the best in this talented society.
Alec J. Ruddick NODA Regional Representative, S.W. Area, Region 6
First produced in New York in 1956, Brooks Atkinson called it ‘the greatest musical of the twentieth century’. It has been translated into over twelve languages and in London ran for almost 6 ½ years with fabulous costumes designed by Cecil Beaton. No wonder that it is still extremely popular, especially with Amateur Societies. S.A.O.S. presented a colourful, well sung and acted production to large audiences. The costumes were from Homburgs and the sets very good. Under the musical direction of John Dempster the orchestra was well balanced and the singing very good. Make-up was very natural and the lighting well controlled.
Nicky Burgess as Eliza Doolittle gave a stunning performance throughout. Her transition from cockney to proper English was very well done. What a pity her mike failed for ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’. Christian Jull sustained the formidable part of Henry Higgins extremely well with exceptional clarity of voice. Geoff Heard was a very good Colonel Pickering. He did not try to be funny but allowed the comedy to come from the characterisation. David Coxon as the roguish Alfred P. Doolittle was entertaining throughout and danced with great enthusiasm. Liam Marcellino was, for me, the perfect Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Young, handsome, very fine singing voice – what more could one ask for? Camilla Burgess made a delightful Mrs Higgins and Fionne Harrington was ideal as Mrs Pearce. A special mention for Carole Birch who really made the most of the cameo role of Mrs Hopkins, getting every ounce of fun from the part. All the other characters were well performed and the chorus singing was of a very high standard. There were rather too many people on stage for ‘Get me to the church on time’, which resulted in the energetic dancing looking rather a muddle.
Overall this was a good production directed by David Turner and I thank-you for making me so welcome.