MY FAIR LADY :: Lerner and Loewe’s legendary classic
If you’ve never seen a production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, then you can probably hum a tune or two from this show. This London import was one of the best received and show’s of all time, and almost every household owned a copy of the original cast recording.
Rex Harrison opened the show with rhetorical question, “Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak,” in his trademarked sprechgesang or “speak-singing.” Julie Andrews followed in a cockney accent singing, “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.” The rest of the story continues as George Bernard Shaw wrote in Pygmalion, with a different, more romantic ending for the musical. Perhaps my favorite part of the show is Eliza’s first trial as a lady at Ascot. Her conversation topics of ladling gin down Mother’s throat and her overexcitement cheering for the horses made for an excellent comedy of manners.
Unfortunately, a filmed production of this musical does not exist. A few musical numbers were performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, but the fully staged version of the show is mostly a memory. Thankfully, the show’s popularity generated plenty of publicity, leaving us with production stills to give us a glimpse of the original Broadway show.
It’s too much asking for a time machine? Just to enjoy the one and only Julie as THE Eliza! AWESOME!
Yes, a time machine is overdue.
if I had a time machine that’s one of the first things I would do. (btw, My Fair Lady was not a “London import” as said above: it’s an original Broadway production, eventually moved whit its original cast to London)
Julie Andrews and Angela Lansbury, a coloratura & a mezzo-soprano, out-singing each other. Julie is as lovely as ever, we all know that she is amazingly good, but Angela is wonderfully surprising in this one. In actual fact [:D], there’s something rather paradoxical about her: for some strange reason her singing qualities have always been overlooked. She sings “I don’t want to know” from Dear World, a musical in which she played Countess Aurelia, the mad woman of Chaillot (a role which got her yet another Tony). Watch this, you WILL be blown away by her voice.
Oh, and just a teensy-weensy detail: she belts it while sitting. How many people do you know (apart from Julie Andrews lol) who can belt a tune like that while sitting?
I suppose Julie came off as the star of the show, because she was. By the time I saw MFL in London, the OCR was the biggest selling album (any genre) in history. Julie had appeared on every television show and starred in CINDERELLA, plus she had done Eliza for 3 1/2 years. Her name was first and biggest on the marquee Everybody was there to see her. There wasn’t a moment in the show that she didn’t own. It really is a shame that performance wasn’t captured. I don’t mean in the movie version, because that was not the same thing. I mean the performance in that production. It was one of a kind. No one has ever come close to duplicating her Eliza.
Cecil Beaton touching up Julie Andrews’ makeup for a My Fair Lady publicity photograph.
In her Autobiography Julie recalls, “Beaton sort of got my goat. Because we were both British, I quickly picked up on something: he was grander than he had any right to be. Maybe I sensed arrogance or hidden ambition. Certainly he acted like a snob. I began to tease him a little, using my developing cockney accent to good effect when I felt he was being condescending or indifferent. And he liked it! I would glimpse the teeniest crack of a smile on his pursed lips and a slight twinkle in his eye when I deliberatly flaunted a lower-class attitude.”
As talented as he his, Beaton’s treatment of a young Julie Andrews makes him sound like a complete pompous ass.
He was a genius in his work but he was such an ass. I love the little parody of him in Victor/Victoria.
wow! I never realized that but it it’s true, that scene could be a parody of his photo sessions!!! :D