Higgins is a fair cop for Dominic: West to star in My Fair Lady
22:51 GMT, 19 July 2012
Dominic West is going to play Professor Henry Higgins in a new production of My Fair Lady
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I could have danced all night: Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in the 1946 film adaption of My Fair Lady which is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion
West won a Bafta best actor award for his portrayal of killer Fred West in ITV1’s Appropriate Adult and received acclaim for his stage work — but has never sung on stage.
Evans pointed out that the part was written for an actor-singer rather than a singer who can act. ‘It’s written to be spoken, and Dominic’s an amazing actor. He’ll be thorough, he’ll be playful and he’ll sing as much as he wants to sing and we’ll discover what we need in rehearsals.’
Carley Bawden from Somerset is set to play Eliza
The director was pleased that both leads are close to the age of the parts as originally written in the show’s source play, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Higgins is supposed to be 40, Eliza 19 or 20. West is 42, and Bawden 23.
Evans knew Bawden would be ‘loverly’ as Eliza as soon as she’d finished singing I Could Have Danced All Night and Show Me at her first audition. ‘She blew everyone else out of the water,’ he told me, adding that she’s a Broadway-type ingenue in the sense that she can belt it out and she’s able to reach the top soprano notes as well.
The actress knows the Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe words and music well, and has seen Audrey Hepburn in the film, but she’s not going to replicate what Hepburn does on screen. ‘You always want to honour what has come before you, but at the same time you’ve just got to go for it,’ she told me.
It’s a breakthrough role for her, although she had a key role in the West End in the charming but short-lived Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, and she’s currently in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe in Kensington Gardens, London.
Rehearsals start in November, but Bawden will have some dialect coaching before then. She has Received Pronunciation down pat, thanks to her training at the Guildford School of Acting. But she wants to perfect her Cockney, so she can spout ‘The rine in spine sties minely in the pline’ in a way that will make Prof Higgins wince.
For now, Evans is concentrating on getting the show right for Sheffield. But with an actor of West’s calibre involved — and the enchanting potential of Bawden — there’ll be pressure to transfer it to London.
‘The pressure isn’t helpful,’ Evans sighed. ‘Our first aim is Sheffield.’
Tuppence is hot on the trail
Actress Tuppence Middleton will star in anew version of The Lady Vanishes
Tuppence Middleton has been picked to star in a new version of The Lady Vanishes.
But the production, for BBC 1, will be very different from the classic 1938 Alfred Hitchcock version, which made movie stars out of Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave.
Hitchcock and screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder veered quite widely from Ethel Lina White’s novel The Wheel Spins, using just the bare bones of White’s plot about an Englishwoman returning by train to England from a fictional European country. During the journey the woman, Miss Froy, befriends Iris Henderson (Tuppence) — but then Miss Froy vanishes.
Iris meets an engineer Max (the character was Gilbert in the movie) and they go in search of the missing lady.
Jesper Christensen, Stephanie Cole and Gemma Jones also feature in the film, which will be shown over the Christmas holidays.
Filming starts on location in Budapest late next month.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies set a new benchmark for comic book capers on screen. He completes his trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises — a rare instance of blockbuster popular culture that happens to be cinematic art. One has the odd reservation, but watching such a star-studded cast, who could ask for more
Make sure you don’t miss . . .
Dionne Warwick, who will perform Live at the Hippodrome, London, in the venue’s cabaret spot The Matcham Room on August 8. I’m humming Do You Know The Way To San Jose as I write this.
People always think Warwick must be loaded, but remember — she only sang those famous numbers, she didn’t write them.
Tickets are available next week. Others singing in the Hippodrome season include Maria Friedman, Ruthie Henshall and Kerry Ellis.