My Fair Ladies continues at Live at Zédel, London until 18 January.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Live at Zédel can only be described as a time machine. The art deco-style, intimate venue transports the audience to 1920s Paris, when femininity took on a brand new look. Women redefined their social status for the better, making Live at Zédel the perfect venue for My Fair Ladies, a show which celebrates the songs made famous by Broadway’s best divas.
Reliving these iconic songs are three of London’s own fair ladies: Evening Standard Award winner Laura-Jane Matthewson; star of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, Lisa-Anne Wood; and from Godspell and Ghost the Musical, Maeve Byrne.
These three ladies, each with wonderful voices, showcase some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre history. Matthewson performing Barbra Streisand’s version of ‘My Coloring Book’ demonstrates this perfectly. The show’s numbers have their roots in both classic and contemporary musicals, including the well-known and much-loved number ‘For Good’ from Wicked.
Producer Chris Wheeler and musical director Niall Bailey also work well to produce such a polished evening. The show is well thought out, with every song tailored to match each performer’s personality.
Byrne nails the more light-hearted, funny numbers including ‘Welcome to Holiday Inn!’, originally performed by Michele Lee in the 1970s Broadway show, Seesaw.
Byrne’s performance is an outstanding one, as she scatters comical moments throughout the evening. The numbers themselves are cleverly interwoven, allowing the show to flow well.
At times, however, the performance feels a little distant, particularly noticeable in such an intimate venue.
Although there is strong audience engagement during the songs, there is very little in-between. This is particularly evident during the solo numbers.
When one performer is singing, it often feels as though the other two are merely waiting for a bus to come along – there is little to no engagement.
While Byrne consistently shows support for her fellow divas, Wood often seems detached. These moments are, however, swiftly saved by her beautiful voice.
My Fair Ladies proves to be an enjoyable evening, celebrating the lives and careers of Broadway’s best divas, whose influence lives on in our theatres to this day.
As promised by Wheeler, the show truly gives you a glimpse into the world of a great diva… Or three.