My Fair Lady is Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s classic musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. Lerner and Loewe’s brilliant words and music, storyline, and humor established it as a timeless musical. In the revival at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center, Tony-award winning director Bartlett Sher adeptly and wonderfully integrates all of the elements of this complex structure, resulting in an enchanting three hours for theatregoers.
The original version of My Fair Lady, which opened in 1956 at the old Mark Hellinger Theatre, was the second Broadway show I ever attended. I was fortunate enough to go backstage afterwards and meet the stars, Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, who originated the roles of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins.
This revival is replete with amazing portrayals. Laura Ambrose perfectly plays Liza Doolittle who is transformed from a cockney-speaking flower girl to a cultured member of upper-class society. Her voice is perfect for this role. Liza’s mentor in this transformation, the misogynist and narcissistic snob Henry Higgins, is wonderfully portrayed by Harry Hadden-Patton. In addition, Diana Rigg is perfect as Higgins’ upper-class mother.
My Fair Lady incorporates wonderful musical standards like “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Norbert Leo Butz, who is outstanding as Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle, leads the toe-tapping number “With a Little Bit of Luck,” and his show-stopping number “Get Me to the Church on Time” brought the audience to its feet.
Allan Corduner is also noteworthy as Colonel Pickering, Higgins’ friend who supports his transformation of a flower girl to a princess like character. Michael Yeargen’s sets and Catherine Zuber’s costumes add to this wonderful production.
This is a classic musical that would appeal to all members of the family. I highly recommend seeing My Fair Lady as well as becoming Lincoln Center members.