Edinburgh theatre: My Fair Lady star says show is 'not to be missed' ahead of Edinburgh Playhouse run

We speak to My Fair Lady star Charlotte Kennedy, ahead of her turn as Eliza Doolittle at Edinburgh Playhouse next month

Beloved musical, My Fair Lady, which is currently touring the UK, will play to audiences in Edinburgh next month, showcasing its new star – 28-year-old actress Charlotte Kennedy.

Despite having Scottish roots, Kennedy is visiting Edinburgh – and Scotland – for the very first time. “I’ve wanted to come here for so long”, she said. “It’s such a beautiful city.” She’s particularly excited to be performing in the Capital over the holiday season, as she notes: “Everyone tells me that it’s like a different place over Christmas, that it’s so festive”.

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Last year, the actress watched the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady over the holidays. She was part of the way through the audition process for the London Coliseum production, and she remembers watching Audrey Hepburn’s performance as Eliza Doolittle, and thinking: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if that could be me.” Now, the actress, who was ensemble and cover for the lead role in London, has taken over the part full-time. "Playing the role is beyond my wildest dreams”, she said.

Charlotte Kennedy as Eliza Doolittle in the My Fair Lady tour, which will play at Edinburgh’s Playhouse next month.

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    Her predecessor Amara Okereke, who was Eliza in the London production, was a My Fair Lady mega-fan, having watched the film over 200 times. Kennedy, however, has avoided watching Audrey Hepburn’s iconic performance, to help her find her own version of the character – who transforms from a Cockney flower girl to a upper class lady. She said: “The character goes on such a journey. As an actor, that’s such a joy to play. There’s so much variety in her, and I don’t think there’s many roles like that in musical theatre for women.”

    The classic musical, which is set in Edwardian London, has been criticised by some for being outdated in today’s society, but Kennedy disagrees, arguing that the show’s themes of class, sexism and misogyny are still relevant today. She said: "Whilst we have come on a long way in the hundred years since My Fair Lady was set, those same issues are still very much at the forefront of society”. She believes the musical highlights “how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.”

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    While the show does handle important topics, Kennedy says it will also provide audiences with a “night of escapism”. She hints at the “stunning” costumes and “beautiful” set and lighting design, before complimenting her fellow actors and stage hands, saying: "We have such an amazing company – on stage and off”. Kennedy will be joined by two time Olivier Award nominee and Outlander actor Michael D. Xavier, Emmerdale actor John Middleton, and opera singer Lesley Garrett. Adam Woodyatt, who is best known for playing Ian Beale in EastEnders and Falkirk born and raised actress Heather Jackson, are both in the cast.

    Kennedy feels like the spectacular and extravagant production is a rarity in the post-Covid theatre scene. She urged audiences to come along, and said: “After the pandemic, to have a musical of this scale on tour, it’s not something to be missed.”

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    My Fair Lady will play at Edinburgh Playhouse from December 14 to January 7. For more information and to book tickets go to ATG’s website.