My Fair Lady

Music: Frederick Loewe

Lyrics & Book: Alan Jay Lerner

Perhaps the most popular musical of the 1950s, My Fair Lady came into being only after Hungarian film producer Gabriel Pascal devoted the last two years of his life to finding writers who would adapt George Bernard Shaw's 1914 play Pygmalion into a musical. Rejected by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Noël Coward, Pascal finally turned to the younger but very talented duo of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner.

The story revolves around Eliza Doolittle, a coarse little peddler of flowers in Covent Garden who agrees to take speech lessons from phonetician Henry Higgins in order to fulfill her dream of working in a flower shop. Eliza succeeds so well, however, that she outgrows her social station and--in a development added by librettist Lerner--even manages to get Higgins to fall in love with her.

My Fair Lady opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 15, 1956 and enjoyed a run of 2,717 performances which lasted more than nine years. The original production featured Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza. The 1964 film version starred Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway and Audrey Hepburn.

Other musical adaptations of Shaw plays include Her First Roman (adapted from Caesar and Cleopatra) and Chocolate Soldier (adapted from Arms and the Man.)

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