Broadway
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My Fair Lady
My fair lady broadway movie poster 1956

Music: Frederick Loewe
Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner
Book: Alan Jay Lerner
Opened: 1956

Starring: Julie Andrews
Rex Harrison


My Fair Lady is a broadway musical that premiered in 1956 and starred Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison in the lead roles.

Synopsis[]

Act I[]

In Edwardian London, Eliza Doolittle is a flower girl with a thick Cockney accent. The noted phoneticianProfessor Henry Higgins encounters Eliza at Covent Garden and laments the vulgarity of her dialect ("Why Can't the English?"). Higgins also meets Colonel Pickering, another linguist, and invites him to stay as his houseguest. Eliza and her friends wonder what it would be like to live a comfortable life ("Wouldn't It Be Loverly?").

Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, stops by the next morning searching for money for a drink ("With a Little Bit of Luck"). Soon after, Eliza comes to Higgins's house, seeking elocution lessons so that she can get a job as an assistant in a florist's shop. Higgins wagers Pickering that, within six months, by teaching Eliza to speak properly, he will enable her to pass for a proper lady.

Eliza becomes part of Higgins's household. Though Higgins sees himself as a kindhearted man who merely cannot get along with women ("I'm an Ordinary Man"), to others he appears self-absorbed and misogynistic. Eliza endures Higgins's tyrannical speech tutoring. Frustrated, she dreams of different ways to kill him ("Just You Wait"). Higgins's servants lament the stressful atmosphere ("The Servants' Chorus").

Just as Higgins is about to give up on her, Eliza suddenly recites one of her diction exercises in perfect upper-class style ("The Rain in Spain"). Though Mrs Pearce, the housekeeper, insists that Eliza go to bed, she declares she is too excited to sleep ("I Could Have Danced All Night").

For her first public tryout, Higgins takes Eliza to his mother's box at Ascot Racecourse ("Ascot Gavotte"). Though Eliza shocks everyone when she forgets herself while watching a race and reverts to foul language, she does capture the heart of Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Freddy calls on Eliza that evening, and he declares that he will wait for her in the street outside Higgins' house ("On the Street Where You Live").

Eliza's final test requires her to pass as a lady at the Embassy Ball. After more weeks of preparation, she is ready. ("Eliza's Entrance"). All the ladies and gentlemen at the ball admire her, and the Queen of Transylvania invites her to dance with the prince ("Embassy Waltz"). A Hungarian phonetician, Zoltan Karpathy, attempts to discover Eliza's origins. Higgins allows Karpathy to dance with Eliza.

Act II[]

The ball is a success; Karpathy has declared Eliza to be a Hungarian princess. Pickering and Higgins revel in their triumph ("You Did It"), failing to pay attention to Eliza. Eliza is insulted at receiving no credit for her success, packing up and leaving the Higgins house. As she leaves she finds Freddy, who begins to tell her how much he loves her, but she tells him that she has heard enough words; if he really loves her, he should show it ("Show Me").

Eliza and Freddy return to Covent Garden but she finds she no longer feels at home there. Her father is there as well, and he tells her that he has received a surprise bequest from an American millionaire, which has raised him to middle-class respectability, and now must marry his lover. Doolittle and his friends have one last spree before the wedding ("Get Me to the Church on Time").

Higgins awakens the next morning. He finds himself out of sorts without Eliza. He wonders why she left after the triumph at the ball and concludes that men (especially himself) are far superior to women ("A Hymn to Him"). Pickering notices the Professor's lack of consideration, and also leaves the Higgins house.

Higgins despondently visits his mother's house, where he finds Eliza. Eliza declares she no longer needs Higgins ("Without You"). As Higgins walks home, he realizes he's grown attached to Eliza ("I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"). At home, he sentimentally reviews the recording he made the day Eliza first came to him for lessons, hearing his own harsh words. Eliza suddenly appears in his home. In suppressed joy at their reunion, Professor Higgins scoffs and asks, "Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?"

Movie[]

In 1964, a motion picture of the musical premiered, while Rex Harrison reprised his role as Professor Higgins, Audrey Hepburn took over Andrews role due to scheduling conflict with another film being released that same year.

Productions[]

In the mid-1930s, film producer Gabriel Pascal acquired the rights to produce film versions of several of George Bernard Shaw's plays, Pygmalion among them. However, Shaw, having had a bad experience with The Chocolate Soldier, a Viennese operetta based on his play Arms and the Man, refused permission for Pygmalion to be adapted into a musical. After Shaw died in 1950, Pascal asked lyricist Alan Jay Lerner to write the musical adaptation. Lerner agreed, and he and his partner Frederick Loewe began work. But they quickly realised that the play violated several key rules for constructing a musical: the main story was not a love story, there was no subplot or secondary love story, and there was no place for an ensemble. Many people, including Oscar Hammerstein II, who, with Richard Rodgers, had also tried his hand at adapting Pygmalion into a musical and had given up, told Lerner that converting the play to a musical was impossible, so he and Loewe abandoned the project for two years.

During this time, the collaborators separated and Gabriel Pascal died. Lerner had been trying to musicalize Li'l Abner when he read Pascal's obituary and found himself thinking about Pygmalion again. When he and Loewe reunited, everything fell into place. All of the insurmountable obstacles that had stood in their way two years earlier disappeared when the team realised that the play needed few changes apart from (according to Lerner) "adding the action that took place between the acts of the play". They then excitedly began writing the show. However, Chase Manhattan Bank was in charge of Pascal's estate, and the musical rights to Pygmalion were sought both by Lerner and Loewe and by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, whose executives called Lerner to discourage him from challenging the studio. Loewe said, "We will write the show without the rights, and when the time comes for them to decide who is to get them, we will be so far ahead of everyone else that they will be forced to give them to us." For five months Lerner and Loewe wrote, hired technical designers, and made casting decisions. The bank, in the end, granted them the musical rights.

Various titles were suggested for the musical. Dominic McHugh wrote: "During the autumn of 1955, the show [was] typically referred to as My Lady Liza, and most of the contracts refer to this as the title." Lerner preferred My Fair Lady, relating both to one of Shaw's provisional titles for Pygmalion and to the final line of every verse of the nursery rhyme "London Bridge Is Falling Down". Recalling that the Gershwins' 1925 musical Tell Me More had been titled My Fair Lady in its out-of-town tryout, and also had a musical number under that title, Lerner made a courtesy call to Ira Gershwin, alerting him to the use of the title for the Lerner and Loewe musical.[citation needed]

Noël Coward was the first to be offered the role of Henry Higgins, but he turned it down, suggesting the producers cast Rex Harrison instead. After much deliberation, Harrison agreed to accept the part. Mary Martin was an early choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle, but declined the role. Young actress Julie Andrews was "discovered" and cast as Eliza after the show's creative team went to see her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend. Moss Hart agreed to direct after hearing only two songs. The experienced orchestrators Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang were entrusted with the arrangements, and the show quickly went into rehearsal.[citation needed]

Song List[]

  1. Overture/Why Can't the English?
  2. Wouldn't It Be Loverly (Wouldn't It Be Lovely)
  3. With a Little Bit of Luck
  4. I'm An Ordinary Man
  5. Just You Wait
  6. The Rain in Spain
  7. I Could Have Danced All Night
  8. Ascot Gavotte
  9. On The Street Where You Live
  10. You Did It
  11. Show Me
  12. Get Me To The Church On Time
  13. A Hymn to Him
  14. Without You
  15. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face

Character List[]

Eliza Doolittle - She is the main character in My Fair Lady, a former flower seller who would like to learn to speak properly.

Professor Henry Higgins - He offers to teach Eliza how to speak properly.

(Cornelius?) Pickering - He makes a bet with Professor Higgins that if he can teach Eliza how to speak,

Amateur Productions[]

This is a place to list community, high school, semi-professional, etc. productions, along with the dates.

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