“My Fair Lady”: Broadway Was Better

In saying that the Broadway version of “My Fair Lady” is superior to the Hollywood film adaptation I realize that I’m too young to have seen Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison light up the Great White Way. But I listened to the cast album a million times as a kid, and I still delight in Andrews’ rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Just You Wait.” There’s a new Blurray version of the movie just out, and a digital restoration, and I have to agree with blogger Jeff Wells, who says: ‘I truly can’t stand this leaden adaptation of Lerner & Loewe’s legendary musical, which debuted on the Broadway stage in 1956. It’s based, of course, on George Bernard Shaw‘s “Pygmalion,” a non-musical first produced on the London stage in 1913. At various stages along the way and perhaps as late as the initial Broadway version, “Pygmalion/My Fair Lady” delivered, I’m sure, a semblance of real life and authenticity, but in the hands of George Cukor and particularly Jack L. Warner, who personally produced the film and vetoed Andrews playing Eliza, “My Fair Lady” was turned into a pageant — a slow-moving, exactingly designed thing that suppressed or suffocated whatever appealing elements were presumably there 60 or 102 years ago.’

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