Alan Jay Lerner, the lyricist behind musicals such as My Fair Lady and Brigadoon was commemorated on Wednesday (14 June 2011) with the unveiled a memorial plaque at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, 25 years after his death. Lerner’s wife, actress Liz Robertson, unveiled the memorial during a service which celebrated his life and work.

Among friends and family in attendance were theatrical greats Don Black, Anthony Andrews, Tim Rice, Russ Abbott and Tony Britton.

In addition to My Fair Lady and Brigadoon, Lerner was the playwright and lyricist behind musicals such as Paint Your Wagon, Camelot, Gigi and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.

The service included heartfelt tributes from Don Black, Jasper Britton and Gerard Kenny as well as lively performances of “With a Little Bit of Luck” by Russ Abbott and the West End Chorus, “Wandrin’ Star” by Tim Rice and Cantabile, and “Ascot Gavotte” by students from Laine Theatre Arts.

One of the original costumes that Julie Andrews wore on stage in My Fair Lady was elegantly displayed (thanks to the V&A), and Lerner’s most famous musical was paid countless other tributes as well. Liz Robertson, Katie Knight-Adams, Jill Martin, Jean Scott, Amy Nuttall, and Sally Ann Howes – all of whom have played the role of Eliza at various times over the last fifty years – came out together to sing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”.

The venue is all the more fitting as My Fair Lady opens with Eliza selling flowers from the portico of St Paul’s Church itself.

The event was produced by Robertson and directed by Hugh Woolridge, with musical direction by David Firman and Jason Carr.

- Matt Hannigan