Henry Higgins est un illustre professeur de phonétique. Un soir, à Covent Garden, il fait la connaissance du Colonel Pickering et d'une marchande de fleurs nommée Eliza Doolittle. Elle propose au savant de l'engager pour qu'il lui enseigne les bonnes manières et la débarrasse de son accent « cockney ». Eliza pourrait ainsi améliorer sa situation sociale. Higgins accepte le défi et accueille la jeune fille chez lui. Au terme de leçons éprouvantes, Higgins emmène son élève à Ascot puis à un bal où elle est présentée à la reine. Les convives tombent sous son charme. Zoltan Karpathy, un ancien étudiant d'Higgins, affirme qu'elle appartient à la noblesse européenne. Higgins savoure sa victoire. Son attitude blesse Eliza qui trouve refuge auprès de la mère de ce dernier.Synopsis complet
Depuis sa création ily a presque 50 ans, l'ascension sociale de Eliza Dolittle continue d'enchanter les foules et symbolise l'âge d'or du musical anglo-saxon.
1 My Fair Lady peut-être considéré comme un Top musical
In the mid-1930s, film producer Gabriel Pascal acquired the rights to produce film versions of several of George Bernard Shaw's plays, Pygmalion among them. However, Shaw, having had a bad experience with The Chocolate Soldier, a Viennese operetta based on his play Arms and the Man, refused permission for Pygmalion to be adapted into a musical. After Shaw died in 1950, Pascal asked lyricist Alan Jay Lerner to write the musical adaptation. Lerner agreed, and he and his partner Frederick Loewe began work. They quickly realized, however, that the play violated several key rules for constructing a musical: the main story was not a love story, there was no subplot or secondary love story, and there was no place for an ensemble. Many people, including Oscar Hammerstein II, who, with Richard Rodgers, had also tried his hand at adapting Pygmalion into a musical and had given up, told Lerner that converting the play to a musical was impossible, so he and Loewe abandoned the project for two years.
During this time, the collaborators separated, and Gabriel Pascal died. Lerner had been trying to musicalize Li'l Abner when he read Pascal's obituary and found himself thinking about Pygmalion again. When he and Loewe reunited, everything fell into place. All the insurmountable obstacles that stood in their way two years earlier disappeared when the team realized that the play needed few changes apart from (according to Lerner) "adding the action that took place between the acts of the play". They then excitedly began writing the show. However, Chase Manhattan Bank was in charge of Pascal's estate, and the musical rights to Pygmalion were sought both by Lerner and Loewe and by MGM, whose executives called Lerner to discourage him from challenging the studio. Loewe said, "We will write the show without the rights, and when the time comes for them to decide who is to get them, we will be so far ahead of everyone else that they will be forced to give them to us". For five months Lerner and Loewe wrote, hired technical designers, and made casting decisions. The bank, in the end, granted them the musical rights.
Noël Coward was the first to be offered the role of Henry Higgins but turned it down, suggesting the producers cast Rex Harrison instead. After much deliberation, Harrison agreed to accept the part. Mary Martin was an early choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle, but declined the role. Young actress Julie Andrews was "discovered" and cast as Eliza Doolittle after the show's creative team went to see her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend. Moss Hart agreed to direct after hearing only two songs. The experienced orchestrators Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang were entrusted with the arrangements and the show quickly went into rehearsal.
The musical's script used several scenes that Shaw had written especially for the 1938 film version of Pygmalion, including the Embassy Ball sequence and the final scene of the 1938 film rather than the ending for Shaw's original play. The montage showing Eliza's lessons was also expanded, combining both Lerner and Shaw's dialogue. The show's title relates to one of Shaw's provisional titles for Pygmalion, Fair Eliza, and to the final line of every verse of the nursery rhyme "London Bridge Is Falling Down". The artwork on the original Playbill (and sleeve of the cast recording) is by Al Hirschfeld, who drew the playwright Shaw as a heavenly puppetmaster pulling the strings on the Henry Higgins character, while Higgins in turn attempts to control Eliza Doolittle.
Original Broadway production
The musical had its pre-Broadway tryout at New Haven's Shubert Theatre. On opening night Rex Harrison, who was unaccustomed to singing in front of a live orchestra, "announced that under no circumstances would he go on that night...with those thirty-two interlopers in the pit". He locked himself in his dressing room and came out little more than an hour before curtain time. The whole company had been dismissed but were recalled, and opening night was a success. The musical then played for four weeks at the Erlanger Theatre in Philadelphia, beginning on February 15, 1956.
The musical premiered on Broadway March 15, 1956, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York City. It transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre and then The Broadway Theatre, where it closed on September 29, 1962 after 2,717 performances, a record at the time. Moss Hart directed and Hanya Holm was choreographer. In addition to stars Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway, the original cast included Robert Coote, Cathleen Nesbitt, John Michael King, and Reid Shelton. Edward Mulhare and Sally Ann Howes replaced Harrison and Andrews later in the run. The Original Cast Recording went on to become the best-selling album in the country in 1956. The original costumes were designed by Cecil Beaton and are on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida, along with many of the original patterns.
Original London production
The West End production, in which Harrison, Andrews, Coote, and Holloway reprised their roles, opened April 30, 1958, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where it ran for five and one-half years (2,281 performances). Stage star Zena Dare made her last appearance in the musical as Mrs. Higgins.
The first revival opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway on March 25, 1976 and ran there until December 5, 1976; it then transferred to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, running from December 9, 1976 until it closed on February 20, 1977, after a total of 377 performances and 7 previews. The director was Jerry Adler, with choreography by Crandall Diehl, based on the original choreography by Hanya Holm. Ian Richardson starred as Higgins, with Christine Andreas as Eliza, George Rose as Alfred P. Doolittle and Robert Coote recreating his role as Pickering. Both Richardson and Rose were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, with the award going to Rose.
A London revival opened at the Adelphi Theatre in October 1979, with Tony Britton as Higgins, Liz Robertson as Eliza, Dame Anna Neagle as Higgins' mother, Peter Bayliss, Richard Caldicot and Peter Land. Cameron Mackintosh produced with Robin Midgley directing the national tour, while Alan Jay Lerner directed into the West End. Gillian Lynne choreographed. Britton and Robertson were both nominated for Olivier Awards.
1981 and 1993 Broadway revivals
A revival opened at the Uris Theatre on August 18, 1981 and closed on November 29, 1981 after 120 performances and 4 previews. Rex Harrison recreated his role as Higgins, with Jack Gwillim and Milo O'Shea co-starring and Nancy Ringham as Eliza. The director was Patrick Garland, with choreography by Crandall Diehl.
Another revival opened at the Virginia Theatre on December 9, 1993 and closed on May 1, 1994 after 165 performances and 16 previews. Directed by Howard Davies, with choreography by Donald Saddler, the cast starred Richard Chamberlain, Melissa Errico and Paxton Whitehead. Julian Holloway, son of Stanley Holloway, recreated his father's role of Alfred P. Doolittle.
2001 London revival; 2003 Hollywood Bowl production
Mackintosh produced a new production on March 15, 2001 at the Royal National Theatre, which transferred to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on July 21. Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Matthew Bourne, the musical starred Martine McCutcheon as Eliza and Jonathan Pryce as Higgins. This revival won three Olivier Awards: Outstanding Musical Production, Best Actress in a Musical (Martine McCutcheon) and Best Theatre Choreographer (Matthew Bourne), with Anthony Ward receiving a nomination for Set Design. Ironically, McCutcheon won the award despite being off sick for most of her eight-month run. In December 2001 Joanna Riding took over the role of Eliza and in May 2002 Alex Jennings took over as Higgins, both winning Olivier Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical respectively in 2003. In March 2003, Anthony Andrews and Laura Michelle Kelly took over the roles until the show closed on August 30, 2003.
A UK tour of this production began September 28, 2005. The production starred Amy Nuttall and Lisa O'Hare as Eliza, Christopher Cazenove as Henry Higgins, Russ Abbot and Gareth Hale as Alfred Doolittle, and Honor Blackman and Hannah Gordon as Mrs. Higgins. The tour ended August 12, 2006.
In 2003 a production of the musical at the Hollywood Bowl starred John Lithgow as Henry Higgins, Melissa Errico as Eliza Doolittle, Roger Daltrey as Alfred P. Doolittle and Paxton Whitehead as Colonel Pickering.
Overture – The Orchestra
Busker Sequence – The Orchestra
Why Can't the English? – Professor Higgins
Wouldn't It Be Loverly? – Eliza and Male Quartet
With a Little Bit of Luck – Alfred Doolittle, Harry, and Jamie
I'm an Ordinary Man – Professor Higgins
With a Little Bit of Luck (Reprise) – Alfred Doolittle and Ensemble
Just You Wait – Eliza
The Servants' Chorus (Poor Professor Higgins) – Mrs. Pearce and Servants
The Rain in Spain – Professor Higgins, Eliza, and Colonel Pickering
I Could Have Danced All Night – Eliza, Mrs. Pearce, and Servants
Ascot Gavotte – Ensemble
On the Street Where You Live – Freddy
Eliza's Entrance/Embassy Waltz – The Orchestra
You Did It – Colonel Pickering, Professor Higgins, Mrs. Pearce, and Servants
Just You Wait (Reprise) – Eliza
On the Street Where You Live (Reprise) – Freddy
Show Me – Eliza and Freddy
The Flower Market/Wouldn't It Be Loverly? (Reprise) – Eliza and Male Quartet
Get Me to the Church on Time – Alfred Doolittle and Ensemble
A Hymn to Him – Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering
Without You – Eliza and Professor Higgins
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face – Professor Higgins
Finale – The Orchestra
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