Is My Fair Lady headed to the London Coliseum in 2021?

Rumours have begun to circulate that Bartlett Sher’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical might be headed to the London Coliseum in 2021 with a little bit of luck.

My Fair Lady London rumours
Harry Hadden-Paton, Lauren Ambrose and Allan Corduner in My Fair Lady. Photo: Joan Marcus

It’s been nearly twenty years since Lerner and Loewe’s musical My Fair Lady was seen in London. Starting at the National Theatre before transferring to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane winning the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production in the process.

This week Baz Bamigboye for the Daily Mail has reported that following the success of his magnificent production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I at the London Palladium, plans are afoot to bring Bartlett Sher’s acclaimed production of My Fair Lady which played an extended season at Lincoln Centre, New York in 2018 running for just over 500 performances.

The Lincoln Centre production featured Lauren Ambrose and Norbert Leo Butz as Eliza and Alfred Doolittle with Brits Harry Hadden-Paton and Dame Diana Rigg playing Professor Henry Higgins and Mrs Higgins together with a huge ensemble and in true Lincoln Centre style a magnificent full orchestra to play Loewe’s glorious score. No hints have been made as to whether any of the Broadway cast will be coming with the production as yet.

My Fair Lady Dame Diana Rigg
Dame Diana Rigg in Lincoln Centre’s My Fair Lady. Photo: Joan Marcus

Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion which was first presented in 1913 in Vienna, My Fair Lady premiered at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway in 1956 starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews. The show would go on to set the record for a Broadway show at that time. In fact, it has quite often been labelled “the perfect musical”.

The story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech and elocution lessons from Professor Henry Higgins, a noted phonetician, so that she may pass as a lady. The musical’s score includes Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?, With A Little Bit Of Luck, The Rain In Spain, I Could Have Danced All Night, On The Street Where You Live, Get Me To The Church On Time and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face.

Of course, the one major problem with all these plans at the moment rests with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on theatres across the UK. At the moment the London Coliseum is the home to the English National Opera and the English National Ballet and is supposed to be playing home to a major revival of Hairspray starring Michael Ball and Lizzie Bee, which has now been postponed til November.

Bartlett Sher is also directing the London transfer of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird starring Rhys Ifans at the Gielgud Theatre which is also being rescheduled.

With Cameron Mackintosh stating this week that none of his productions will return to the West End until some time in 2021, it might be a while before any statement about My Fair Lady can be made with any certainty. With a little bit of bloomin’ luck it will all go ahead!

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