More than providing the production with an extended run, the move also brings with it a sense of history repeating itself. The Drury Lane was the original London home of My Fair Lady in the 1950s. After its premiere in New York in 1956, the show opened at Drury Lane on 30 April 1958. It continued there for five and a half years, enjoying the theatre's second longest run ever, outdistanced only by Cameron Mackintosh's Miss Saigon. This brand new production is the first London revival since 1979, when Mackintosh produced the show at the Adelphi Theatre.
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 Doolittle, and introduces her to high society. Following its enormous stage success, the musical was made into a film, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, in 1964. 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."
Jonathan Pryce plays Professor Henry Higgins. His previous musical stage roles include The Engineer in Miss Saigon, which he originated in the West End and on Broadway, and Fagin in Oliver!. His other stage credits include Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville Theatre), The Caretaker (National), The Seagull (Queen's) and numerous productions for the RSC.
McCutcheon, who plays Eliza, is best known for her long-running part as Tiffany on the BBC soap EastEnders, and for her success since as a recording artist with hit singles such as "Perfect Moment" and "I've Got You". Other members of the cast include Dennis Waterman (as Alfred P Doolittle), Nicholas Le Provost (Colonel Pickering), Caroline Blakiston (Mrs Higgins), Mark Umbers (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) and Patsy Rowlands (Mrs Pearce).
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.
My Fair Lady is presented at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane by Cameron Mackintosh in association with the National Theatre. Booking for the West End run opens on 23 March.
- by Terri Paddock