The highly-anticipated revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady officially opened April 19 at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont. The opulent production gives new meaning to the word decadence, in a world (crafted by scenic designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Donald Holder) and that juxtaposes Eliza Doolittle’s poor beginnings and Henry Higgins’ high-class academia. But there is so much more than extravagant trappings guiding this “perfect musical” to the stage.
Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies) was the first to join the livestream to discuss the various styles and surprises he brought to the production—from Viennese Waltz to ballet dancers in drag. Speaking of two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” Gattelli said “Norbert is fearless. You will tell him anything, he'll do it until he gets it right. Nothing was out of bounds. You almost have to reign him in because he's so gung-ho and puts—150 percent is too low—300 percent into it. I am the new captain of his fan club.”
And Butz himself joined the livestream later on and shared that having been away from theatre for four years, he was nervous about coming back. “I was working with a camera pretty exclusively for four years so I had a lot of stage fright coming back,” he said. “You have to act like you don’t have stage fright.”
Playbill also spoke to director Bartlett Sher about molding his vision for the production, to which he revealed that after a day in the rehearsal room he had to start over from scratch on much of the day’s work, moving pieces on Yeargan’s set model for a clean slate. (Hear the full story in the video above.)
Broadway veteran Linda Mugleston, who plays Mrs. Pearce, shared backstage secrets about what makes Lincoln Center Theater different from working other places on Broadway; Dame Diana Rigg (also known as Oleanna Tyrell on Game of Thrones) spoke about returning to the stage after more than two decades; Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton alum Jordan Donica explained why he didn’t watch any of the previous iterations of My Fair Lady or its source material, Pygmalion, and the benefit of starting from scratch.
Of course, we spoke to Harry Hadden-Paton who plays Higgins in his Broadway debut. (Audiences may recognize him from Downton Abbey and The Crown.) He told Playbill about the one thing he was going to try not to do, but how the role simply draws you into that pattern. We capped off the broadcast with the lady of the evening, Lauren Ambrose who plays the titular Lady in her Broadway musical debut and she shared what felt different on opening night from any of the previous performances.
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