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Broadway has found its Eliza Doolittle.
Ending months of speculation, Lincoln Center Theater on Thursday announced that Lauren Ambrose, the Six Feet Under discovery who made her Broadway debut in Bartlett Sher’s 2006 production of the Clifford Odets drama Awake and Sing! will reunite with the director on his major upcoming revival of My Fair Lady.
Starring opposite her as Professor Henry Higgins, the pompous linguistics scholar who enters into a bet to pass off the Cockney flower girl as an aristocrat, will be Harry Hadden-Paton, a London stage vet best known to international audiences for his roles on Downton Abbey and The Crown.
Unconfirmed earlier reports had pegged Colin Firth as being in discussions to make his Broadway debut in the role.
Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz, a series regular on Netflix’s Bloodline, will play Eliza’s dustman father Alfred P. Doolittle, while distinguished British stage veteran Diana Rigg, who won a Tony in 1994 for her last Broadway appearance, in Medea, will play Henry’s worldly mother, Mrs. Higgins.
My Fair Lady, which premiered on Broadway in 1956, is one of the most beloved shows in the musical-theater canon, running more than six years and almost 3,000 performances in its original production. Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison originated the lead roles of Eliza and Professor Higgins onstage, with Harrison reprising his part opposite Audrey Hepburn in George Cukor’s celebrated 1964 screen version, which won eight Oscars, including best picture.
The show is based on the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion; it features book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, including such standards as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
The last Broadway revival of My Fair Lady was in 1993, with that 25-year absence heightening expectations for the Lincoln Center Theater production. Sher has proven himself an impeccable director of classic American musicals with his acclaimed productions of South Pacific (which won him a Tony), The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof.
Sher had previously planned to reteam with Ambrose on a 2012 Broadway revival of Funny Girl, which fell apart when four major investors withdrew. The backing of LCT, one of the leading nonprofits of the New York stage, makes My Fair Lady a far more solid proposal, particularly given the enormous critical and commercial success of the company and its Resident Director Sher with lavish remountings of musical classics. The upcoming revival is being produced in association with Nederlander Presentations.
Choreography will be by Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), with music direction by Ted Sperling. Sher will reassemble his frequent design collaborators — Michael Yeargan on sets, Catherine Zuber on costumes, Donald Holder on lighting, Marc Salzberg on sound — for the show, for which additional casting is to be announced.
Previews begin March 15, with opening night set for April 19 at LCT’s Vivian Beaumont Theater.
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