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My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

 

The musical My Fair Lady, underscoring the theme of social class, is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Given our current state of politics and socio economic turmoil, this seems an apt time to review the musical Pygmalion: its social and political undertones and how it helped shape Hollywood's casting patterns for decades before reaching mass appeal.

 

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Plot Summary

Eliza Doolittle is a charming flower girl of six whose family is desperate for money. She’s abandoned by her own mother after she refuses to marry. On the other hand, Professor Henry Higgins, who teaches an elocution course, has had no success teaching women how to speak properly—until Eliza comes along...

 

My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, an English flower girl who has some trouble speaking properly because she is partially deaf. He seeks her help in teaching him how to teach proper pronunciation and speech patterns. They end up falling in love with each other while struggling to be accepted by society. This is an important musical due to it being one of the few non-musicals that William Goldman was able to work in. William Goldman is the well known screenwriter best known for his work on The Princess Bride, The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, and other films. He wrote My Fair Lady in the early 1970s when he was well past his supposed retirement age to write another screenplay. Goldman was so intrigued with the story he could not resist writing another screenplay even when he knew he would be severely limited by budget constraints. Knowing when to run out when running out of money saved him from having to finish the script in less than a year's time which would have required him to stretch the story significantly.

 

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Highlights

  • The book Pygmalion is known to have been written in 1912 and first performed in London, England.
  • When Pygmalion was first performed at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 8th of April 1914, it starred Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle, a very well-known actress at the time. This performance is what made Pygmalion so popular because of her performance as Eliza. Also, her extremely well-known husband helped to promote the play as well as to raise its popularity.
  • In 1938 Pygmalion was adapted to a film by George Cukor and Leslie Howard that starred Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle.
  • When Pygmalion was adapted to a film in the late thirties, the character of Eliza Doolittle was an instant hit to the American culture.
  • The musical version of Pygmalion was first adapted by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe in 1956. The show ran for 1,711 performances on Broadway between October 1956 and April 1959, and starred Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison (who won a Tony Award for his performance).

 

My Fair Lady Tickets

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