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Pygmalion comes to the Lawrence Batley Theatre

Huddersfield Thespians produce the timeless Shaw classic with Ellen Ball in the leading role.

Huddersfield Thespian Ellen Ball as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion

My Fair Lady turned the George Bernard Shaw masterpiece Pygmalion into a much-loved, iconic and world-famous musical with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison in the film version.

But it is the original play, first performed in 1913, that Huddersfield Thespians are bringing to the stage of the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Tuesday, December 6.

Taking the role of feisty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle will be Ellen Ball, who is making a return to the society after a 12-year absence; while Thespian stalwart Alistair Cheetham is Professor Henry Higgins, the man with a mission to transform a wild violet into an English rose.

As director Derek Smith says: “Everyone knows My Fair Lady, but this is the original story of Eliza Doolittle – a funny, witty story about how a person finds themselves and the person they can be.”

Derek says he doesn’t use the phrase ‘bettering themselves’ as this suggests that one life is better for Eliza than the other – and he wants audiences to decide that for themselves.

Beautiful Yorkshire landscapes on display at Coffeevolution

It’s more than half a century since the Thespians produced Pygmalion, but this is a play that has timeless qualities. Ellen, who went to drama school before getting married, says she’s looking forward to tackling the role.

She has extensive experience of appearing in both plays and musicals but feels that drama offers “something to really get my teeth into’’.

As she adds: “I’m really enjoying the artistic challenge. I have deliberately not gone back and looked at anybody else’s Eliza (it was famously played by Julie Andrews on Broadway) because I want to develop my own character. I think any woman can identify with Eliza, she’s very real.”

Ellen, 35, took a break from the Thespians while raising her three children and is now a full time chemistry student at Huddersfield University. Amateur dramatics is, she says, a great way to satisfy the creative part of her personality, while science appeals to her logical side.

Pygmalion runs from December 6 to 10. Tickets are £12 from www.thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.

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