My Fair Lady Confirms Closure at Drury Lane, 30 AugDate: 1 May 2003
Trevor Nunn's multi award-winning National Theatre revival of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady will close at the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane this August. The musical first opened in March 2001 at the NT Lyttelton, where it ran for three months before transferring in July 2001 to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Despite recently extending booking to December (See News, 28 Mar 2003), it will now finish on 30 August 2003 after a run of more than two years and ahead of possible revivals on Broadway and in Australia.
It has not yet been confirmed what will succeed My Fair Lady at the Drury Lane though many shows have been mooted for the popular 2,200-seat musicals house, including the stage version of Mary Poppins, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, who also produces My Fair Lady. The theatre is scheduled to be dark until the end of September 2003, with further programming announcements expected shortly.
Nunn's My Fair Lady has scooped multiple Oliviers for two years running. Amongst its three wins last year were Outstanding Musical Production and Best Actress in a Musical for original (often absent) star Martine McCutcheon, while this year it won Best Actress and Best Actor in a Musical for the second Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higggins, Joanna Riding and Alex Jennings.
From 10 March 2003, the production saw its third major cast change. It now stars Anthony Andrews and Laura Michelle Kelly in the leads with Russ Abbot (as Alfred P Doolittle), Stephen Moore (Colonel Pickering), Hannah Gordon (Mrs Higgins), Michael Xavier (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) and Patsy Rowlands will return to play Mrs Pearce. (Katie Knight-Adams plays the role of Eliza at certain performances.) The production is designed by Anthony Ward with choreography and musical staging by Matthew Bourne.
The 1956 musical, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. An opinionated linguistics professor, Henry Higgins, sets out to prove that he can turn anyone into a lady. He chooses as his specimen one cockney flower girl, Eliza, and introduces her to high society. The famous score includes "I Could Have Danced All Night", "Wouldn't It Be Loverly", "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face", "Why Can't the English" and "The Rain in Spain."
In a statement, Cameron Mackintosh said this production had exceeded expectations, with profits in excess of £2 million: "My Fair Lady has always been one of my favourite musicals, so I have been thrilled with the huge success of this production which has run even longer than the first time I did the show in 1978. The current cast has received the best notices yet, and consequently I have decided to end the London run on a high, rather than try and recast the show yet again when several contracts run out in the autumn. I look forward to producing this marvellous musical once more, in about 20 years!"
- by Terri Paddock