£4.7m Makes My Fair Lady West Endís Fastest SellerDate: 28 March 2001
Despite star Martine McCutcheon's ill health, the National Theatre's My Fair Lady has become the fastest selling show in West End history. Producer Cameron Mackintosh predicts that, based on current momentum, the show's just-announced booking period at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane may sell out within weeks.
By the time My Fair Lady opened at the National on 15 March, the entire run to 30 June at the NT's Lyttelton Theatre had already sold out. Last week, the expected transfer to the West End was announced. Tickets for the new run, starting from 21 July, went on sale last Friday and in less than a week, the box office has swept up more than £4.7 million in advance bookings. The best seats for all weekend performances have already gone and the rest of the house is moving fast.
Mackintosh, no stranger to blockbusters, has called the response "unprecedented". My Fair Lady, he says, is proving bigger than any of his previous hits, including Miss Saigon, Les Miserables or The Phantom of the Opera and, if not bigger, it's box office success is "certainly faster than we experienced with the current West End hit, Mamma Mia!."
The impresario, who first presented the Lerner and Loewe classic in London in 1979, went on to say, "I am not surprised that My Fair Lady has been so well received but I am flabbergasted by how big the advance is. At this rate, we will be sold out in three or four weeks."
My Fair Lady is due to open at the Drury Lane this summer with its original National cast, including Martine McCutcheon as Eliza Doolittle, Jonathan Pryce as Professor Henry Higgins and Dennis Waterman as Alfred Doolittle. However, the casting is looking increasingly precarious. McCutcheon nearly missed the opening night at the National due to flu and, last week, was hospitalised with a throat infection. Her understudy, Alexandra Jay, continues to fill in at the Lyttelton.
The award-winning 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."
This revival of My Fair Lady is directed by NT artistic director Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Matthew Bourne of Adventures in Motion Pictures fame. The production is designed by Anthony Ward with lighting by David Hersey and sound by Paul Groothuis. The musical supervisor is David White, musical director Nick Davies and orchestrator William D Brohn, with original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett.
- by Terri Paddock