NT My Fair Lady Launches UK Tour Before US 50thDate: 20 June 2005
Trevor Nunn’s multi award-winning National Theatre production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady hits the road this autumn. The recast tour opens on 5 October 2005 (previews from 28 September) at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, where it plays until 5 November. It then continues to Birmingham and ten further UK cities prior to opening in America in 2006 to mark the musical’s 50th anniversary.
After first opening on Broadway in 1956, starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady had its West End premiere in 1958 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where it ran for five-and-a-half years. Nunn’s revival opened at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre in March 2001, then transferred itself to Drury Lane, running for another two years.
In Nunn’s original cast, Jonathan Pryce starred as overbearing linguistics professor Henry Higgins, alongside former EastEnders actress (and frequently absent) Martine McCutcheon, who won an Olivier for her portrayal of cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle. Subsequent West End casts featured Alex Jennings and Joanna Riding (both of whom won Oliviers), Anthony Andrews and Laura Michelle Kelly.
For the tour, the search to find a new Eliza is ongoing. Casting confirmed to date includes Christopher Cazenove as Henry Higgins, Russ Abbot reprising his West End role as Alfred P Doolittle and Honor Blackman as Mrs Higgins.
Christopher Cazenove, who made his West End debut in The Lionel Touch with Rex Harrison, has also been seen on stage in The Winslow Boy, An Ideal Husband, Brief Encounter and, most recently on tour, Dracula. His numerous TV credits include The Regiment, The Duchess of Duke Street and Dynasty. He has also appeared in feature films Zulu Dawn, Three Men and a Little Lady and A Knight’s Tale.
Russ Abbot is perhaps best known for his TV comedy series Russ Abbot’s Madhouse and The Russ Abbot Show. He has also had leading roles in Little Me, Oliver!, Caught in the Net and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End. Honor Blackman famously played Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Cathy Gale in TV series The Avengers.
My Fair Lady is designed by Anthony Ward and choreographed by Matthew Bourne. The London production’s other accolades included Oliviers for Best Theatre Choreographer and Outstanding Musical Production. It’s produced on tour by Cameron Mackintosh, who has previously presented the musical in the West End and on tour in a 1979 production directed by Alan J Lerner himself, and Clear Channel Entertainment.
Commenting on his affection for the piece, Mackintosh said: “My Fair Lady has always had a special place in my heart, ever since I saw Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison in the original Drury Lane production when I was 13... In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the show’s creation, I am delighted to bring a wonderful new cast to thrill new audiences and old friends with its brilliant, witty and timeless score and even more timely story of a girl from the gutter being given the chance to prove that she’s naturally the fairest lady of them all.”
- by Caroline Ansdell