Broadway theatre review
By now the whole world should know about or have seen the enormously successful mega global stage or screen sensation My Fair Lady which made Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle the cockney flower seller a Broadway star way back when, despite the film role going to Audrey Hepburn.
The rest is history, as they say, propelling Ms. Andrews into one of the world’s top film stars.
This current incarnation at Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont has Lauren Ambrose as Eliza (to Oct 21) and Laura Benanti assuming the role Oct 23. Diana Rigg as Higgins’ mother, Mrs. Higgins, plays her final performance on Sep 9 with Rosemary Harris stepping into the role on Sep 11th.
Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the story-line is one of the ruling classes of the British upper crust versus the poor and down-trodden lower classes – a subject well documented in all of Shaw’s plays.
We are witness to Professor Henry Higgins (Harry Hadden-Paton), deciding on a bet to transform a cockney flower girl into an upper class Duchess with elocution and deportment lessons from his home and succeeding to boot!
Colonel Pickering (Allan Corduner) is the house guest and friend of Higgins. Mrs. Higgins (Diana Rigg) and Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s father (Norbert Leo Butz) and Mrs. Pearce, the dutiful housekeeper (Linda Mugleston) collectively bring passion and excitement to their respective principle roles.
However it’s the interpretation one must really consider: Bartlett Sher brings a darker and more well-rounded direction – especially in light of 21st century morals and the “Me2” movement. This Higgins is portrayed as insufferable and a cad, arrogant and at times amusing and Eliza is seen as both vulnerable and outspoken! The accents and dialects, spot on.
And one shouldn’t ever forget the musical thread by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. There are so many wonderful tunes from Wouldn’t it be Loverly to With a Little Bit of Luck to I Could have Danced all Night,
just three that has one tapping one’s feet throughout. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s re-created as a joint LCT/National Theatre of Great Britain co-production in the future.
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