By Lee Rodriguez | Posted on March 16, 2018 9:14 AM
The Bartlett Sher-Helmed Revival of My Fair Lady Begins Previews at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre Starring Lauren Ambrose and Harry Hadden-Paton.
Director of The King and I Helms Lerner and Loewe ClassicOn March 15, 2018, My Fair Lady began previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center Theater, officially opening on April 19. This Lener and Loewe stalwart, adapted from Shaw’s Pygmalion, premiered on Broadway in 1956 starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, earning the record at the time for longest running show with 2,717 performances. That year, the show earned the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Conductor and Musical Director.
The show was revived on Broadway in 1976 starring Ian Richardson and Christine Andreas, and again in 1981 starring Rex Harrison and Nancy Ringham, and then again in 1993 starring Richard Chamberlain and Melissa Errico. The show also had very successful productions globally, becoming an undeniable modern classic. The show is now seeing its fifth Broadway production, directed by Bartlett Sher. Sher’s Broadway credits include Oslo, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, South Pacific, Awake and Sing!, and The Light in the Piazza.
Lauren Ambrose and Harry Hadden-Paton StarIn the role of Eliza Doolittle is Lauren Ambrose (Awake and Sing!, Exit the King) whose film roles include Can’t Hardly Wait and Sleepwalk With Me, as well as television appearances on Six Feet Under, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Dig and Law & Order. In the part of Henry Higgins is Harry Hadden-Paton, making his Broadway debut. Hadden-Paton is a British actor best known for his role as Herbert Pelham, 7th Marquess of Hexham, on Downton Abbey. His London theatre credits include Flare Path, No Naughts Bits, She Stoops to Conquer, The Changeling, and The Pride.
In an unusual turn of casting, Hadden-Paton is actually 4 years younger than Ambrose. In earlier productions, the part of Eliza was much younger than that of Henry Higgins, especially in the 1981 revival when Rex Harrison reprised his role from the original production. In the original production of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw on which the musical was based, the role was created for and played by Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who has almost 50 at the time.
Rounding Out The Cast
As for the other parts, Norbert Leo Butz (Big Fish, Dead Accounts, Catch Me If You Can, Enron) plays Alfred P. Doolittle, and Diana Rigg (Medea, The Misanthrope, Abelard and Heloise) plays Mrs. Higgins. It is a daring choice for Bartlett Sher and the producers to put on this show without a hugely recognizable star in the part of Eliza, but it is to the credit of the creative team to go ahead with the choice of integrity, rather than stardom. Other revivals have failed when attempting to ride on the fame of a celebrity, and in this case, the effectiveness of the performances will make or break the revival.