April 30, 1958: My Fair Lady comes to London

My_Fair_Lady-1958-progMy Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady. The original Broadway, London and film versions all starred Rex Harrison.

The musical’s 1956 Broadway production was a notable critical and popular success. It set a record for the longest run of any show on Broadway up to that time. It was followed by a hit London production, a popular film version, and numerous revivals. My Fair Lady has frequently been called “the perfect musical”.

Stage-04-30-1958

The West End production, in which Harrison, Julie Andrews, Robert Coote, and StanleyMy_Fair_Lady-1958-book Holloway reprised their roles from the original Broadway production, opened  at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where it ran for five and a half years (2,281 performances). Edwardian musical comedy star Zena Dare made her last appearance in the musical as Mrs. Higgins. Leonard Weir played Freddy. A special Gala Performance was held on 5 May 1958, attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Alexandra. Harrison left the London cast in May 1959, followed by Andrews in August 1959 and Holloway in October 1959.  [Wikipedia]

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