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6
My Fair Lady - 2001 London Cast
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2014
I've been listening to about 3 versions of My Fair Lady on CD so far (Original cast with Julie Andrews, Movie cast with Marni Nixon, and the first complete studio cast recording by Jay records). So my review will be based on my experience with these 3 versions prior to listening to this 2001 Revival cast recording.

I won't repeat the previous reviews about the casting choice, as I think the collective opinion about Jonathan Pryce, Martine McCutcheon, and the rest are rather accurate. I'd like to talk about the orchestration, which is one of the highlights of this album, to me at least.

The most impressive thing that struck me when I first heard this album, was that at least half of the score had been re-orchestrated. And to me, I loved it, because it brought a new freshness and modernness to the music. I would never had thought that the orchestrations of the original score were out-dated by any means, but this new orchestration really brings more dynamics to the emotions and feelings of the songs, making it sound more in line with the modern orchestrations of the 21st century. For one, I think that the rearrangements of the songs sung by Alfred Dolittle were fantastic in giving it more oomph, cos I've never really been a fan of Senior Doliitle's songs..

For me, it's worth it to purchase this album, even though I've already owned 3 other versions. it's worth the price just for listening to the new arrangments alone. I give alot of respect to the orginal orchestration Maestros, but going forward I think this new ochestration will do very well for the modern audience for the next 30 years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 9, 2012
I'm not a Broadway purist in the sense that I automatically equate "original" with "better." When Encores staged "Finian's Rainbow" recently, I felt that the original orchestrations were in dire need of updating. "The Hot Mikado" is a hoot, and I had no issue when Jonathan Tunick fine-tuned "A Chorus Line" a few years back. But why fiddle with perfection? Robert Russell Bennet and Philip J. Lang were two of the giants of Broadway arranging and orchestration, and their work on "My Fair Lady" was unparalleled. Whoever decided that this show's score needed rethinking was, frankly, an idiot. (If you see them within 15 miles of the "Gypsy" overture, shoot to kill.) Perhaps it all worked better live, but listening to this recording -- and how could one do so more than once? -- is an exasperating, pointless process.

First of all, Martine McCutcheon, the leading lady (Olivier Award notwithstanding) is simply not up to singing the role. At all. Again, the performance may have worked splendidly in the theater, given her Cockney authenticity; listening at home, however, one is tempted to skip to the next track after a few whispered, wan notes. Without a solid, soaring "fair lady," what on Earth is the point? Jonathan Pryce should have worked as Higgins (he's fundamentally "right" for the role), but he's chosen largely to sing the score, as opposed to sing/talk it. This approach to the material is oddly de-neutering. A Higgins who fails to rant and bellow (i.e. one who calmly sings), is no Higgins at all. So here you have a "My Fair Lady" grossly undermined by the actors playing the leading roles. Which doesn't leave much, if anything, left. Dennis Waterman sounds like a terrific Doolittle, but when does one gravitate to this show for the Doolittle? The rest of the cast is serviceable, but can't justify one's serious time or attention.

This revival was the brainchild of producer Cameron Mackintosh, who has obvious affection for the show. But the fact that one can rethink a show doesn't mean that one should. He's managed to transform "My Fair Lady" from something magical into something mundane.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2007
I was totally disapointed with the new orchestrations for this production. While Russell Bennett's original orchestrations were performed by a full pit orcestra, and were sophisticated, yet witty, these new orchestrations are so thin that they are "painful to the ear." There must by only a handful of musicians in the orchestra. I definitely do not recommmend this recording. I will continue enjoying the Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews original. You cannot improve upon perfection.

Daryl
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This cast album to the 2001 London revival of MY FAIR LADY is simply superb, despite the presence of Martine McCutcheon, who turned out to be a problematic choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle.
Coming via the prestigious National Theatre, this lavish revival of MY FAIR LADY moved to the West End for a triumphant run of nearly 3 years. Jonathan Pryce (MISS SAIGON) is perfect for the role of the irascible Henry Higgins, the phonetics professor who unwittingly takes Eliza under his wing and transforms her into a lady who rides to success at the Embassy Ball.
Martine McCutcheon was perhaps a smart choice for Eliza (at that time), but her light-pop voice hardly does justice to the material. McCutcheon repeatedly made headlines with her frequent illnesses, culminating in a blood-clotting condition which left her hospital-bound for a month. The role of Eliza generally calls for a "legit" soprano voice, (eg- Julie Andrews, Sally Ann Howes, Liz Robertson).
Dennis Waterman is ideal for the role of the oh-so-cockney dustman Alfred P. Doolittle. He is simply infectious with all his numbers, "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time". Very much the modern-day equivalent of Stanley Holloway.
The cast is rounded out by Nicholas le Prevost (as Colonel Pickering), Mark Umbers (as Freddy Eynsford-Hill), Patsy Rowlands (as Mrs Pearce) and Caroline Blakiston (as Mrs Higgins).
All-in-all, this new cast album of MY FAIR LADY is superb, featuring sparkling new performances and lovely new musical arrangements by William David Brohn.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2003
I saw this production in London last summer (2002) and was absolutely blown away. I KNEW I had to get the CD so I could relive the magic of the whole show.
I do enjoy this CD. Dennis Waterman is as funny on the CD as I remembered as Alfred P. Doolittle. Jonathon Pryce is truly amazing on the CD as Prof. Higgens. I saw Alex Jennings, so it was kind of fun to hear Pryce's interpretation of Higgens. I absolutely adored Joanna Riding as Eliza, so I figured that Martine could not be too bad since she had the role first. It really is too bad that Joanna did not get to be Eliza on this recording since she was amazing and Martine is less than stellar. Mark Umbers shines as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, as did Peter Prentice when I saw him in this role.
The music does have a few surprises for the listener who is used to Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison or Audrey Hepburn (Marni Nixon) and Rex Harrison. Stanley Holloway would have fun with the changes in his music that Dennis Waterman gets to play with.
All in all the recording is excellent. If you're like me and sing along with the music, sing over Martine and you'll be fine!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2001
Over here in the UK, there has been a lot of controversy about this production of "My Fair Lady". Initially, the casting of a TV soap star in the lead part of Eliza caused some raised eyebrows, but after superlative reviews from the press, Ms. McCutcheon's subsequent acute blood clotting and throat infection got even higher brows as she failed to play even half of the performances at the National Theatre.
No doubt Ms. McCutcheon was still ill during the recording of this show, since she has to be the weakest link. It is a shame that with all other performances glowing - both in the acting and singing departments. The orchestra under William Brohn's orchestrations sounds wonderfully rich and spirited and plays brilliantly.
Unfortunately, Martine McC. sings like an untrained school girl: often flat, her voice lacks warmth and dimension, and when trying to "sing" "poshly" her accent goes down the drain to form a most unpleasant hybrid.
I give this recording 4 stars simply because it is truly stunning - a better bet for your money than any of the others. However, you may just have to skip through Eliza's tracks.
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