In 1956 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s masterful retelling of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion took the world by storm. Creating the enchanting character of Eliza Doolittle was a young Julie Andrews in only her second role on Broadway, catapulting her to international stardom.
Now 60 years later, with Dame Julie Andrews at the helm, My Fair Lady is set to dazzle once again in its highly anticipated opening at the Sydney Opera House. The Cinderella story about the Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and the appealingly arrogant phoneticist Professor Higgins, is an endearing tale that charms audiences with its warmth and vivid characters.
The clash of cultures sparks some of theatre’s most witty dialogue and wonderful songs. The triumphant score features unforgettable numbers including Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?, On the Street Where You Live, I Could Have Danced All Night, and Get Me to the Church on Time.
With book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, and directed by Moss Hart, the musical’s 1956 Broadway production was a momentous hit, setting a record for the longest run of any major musical theatre production in history with more than 2,700 performance. It was followed by a hit London production, a popular film version, and numerous revivals.
Headlining this new Australian production is acclaimed British performer Alex Jennings as Professor Higgins, and young Australian star, Anna O’Byrne as Eliza Doolittle. Joining them is an outstanding cast. Reg Livermore will play the role of Alfred P. Doolittle. Robyn Nevin will play Mrs. Higgins and Mark Vincent will play Freddy Eynsford-Hill. The role of Colonel Hugh Pickering will be played by Tony Llewellyn-Jones and Deidre Rubenstein will play Mrs Pearce.
“I am thrilled to be working with this extraordinary cast and crew,” said Miss Andrews. “Directing this lovely piece will allow me to honour my mentor, Moss Hart, and hopefully expose a new generation of theatre lovers to this important musical.”
Associates of the original design team have come onboard for this production to help bring to life once again the stunning sets by Oliver Smith and glorious costumes by Cecil Beaton. Contributing to the creative team is Tony-award winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli, musical director Guy Simpson, lighting design by Broadway and West End legend Richard Pilbrow and sound design by Michael Waters.
“It has been such a joy to work with Miss Andrews in recreating and celebrating the iconic 1956 production,” said producer John Frost. “There is no better person to capture the magic of this musical masterpiece.”
My Fair Lady opens tonight (Tuesday 6 September) at the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House. It will then play Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre – QPAC from 12 March 2017, and Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 11 May 2017. For more information, visit: www.myfairladymusical.com.au for details.
Image: the new Australian production of My Fair Lady – photo by Jeff Busby