Review: My Fair Lady, starring Lauren Ambrose
My Fair Lady is now being revived on Broadway for the fourth time, marking the fifth production since Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison originated the now iconic roles of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. Now starring Lauren Ambrose as Eliza and Harry Hadden-Patton as Henry in his Broadway debut, the new production shines and will certainly please audiences.
Ambrose is not a stranger the the stage, having done shows previously on Broadway. She takes on a new persona as Eliza, transforming with the character as she transforms from a flower girl on the street to a lady who can be passed off as a duchess. Hadden-Patton has clearly embraced his role, and is so invested in several numbers that you clearly believe that he is Henry Higgins. Most notably, he shines in "I'm an Ordinary Man" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face". While neither Ambrose or Hadden-Patton are huge stars, they both shine brightly in the show and give incredibly enjoyable performances.
Norbert Leo Butz plays Alfred Doolittle, Eliza's father, and gives one of the best performances I've ever seen. His rendition of "Get Me to the Church on Time" had the entire audience clapping along, and cheering by the time it ended. He was clearly enjoying himself on stage, and gave an uptick in energy as to show was getting closer to the end.
Diana Rigg was greeted to applause every time she came on stage. Her delicate and understated performance as Mrs. Higgins is wonderfully effective and despite not being on the stage too long, each time she was she left an impression.
The star of the show is truly not any of the actors, but is the set on which they perform. With multiple moving set pieces, all incredibly elaborate and beautiful, if the set did not work, the show would not go on.
Director Bartlett Sher has preserved the original vision of the show, while still making it relevant to the modern era and the #MeToo movement. In interviews leading up to the show starting previews, he was clear that he was focused on telling Eliza's story and giving her her own feelings. His vision comes across incredibly well and he leaves the ending open, allowing everyone in the audience to come to the conclusion of what Eliza decides to do.
Lerner and Loewe's music is as wonderful as ever. This current revival has a wonderful orchestra that gives the score a magical quality. At one point during the second act, part of the orchestra is on stage, which is a wonderful thing that not only fits with the story but is nice to see more often.
This production of My Fair Lady is not without it's flaws but there are very few of them, mainly that despite being wonderful on stage Ambrose and Hadden-Patton don't possess the necessary star power for these roles. That aside, it is an incredibly enjoyable production. In fact, it's positively loverly.