My Fair Lady, the classic musical about a fussy Englishman who transforms a flower girl into a lady through the sheer magic of proper enunciation, is one of the great Broadway shows of all time, but it hasn't been seen on the Great White Way since a short-lived 1993 revival with Richard Chamberlain. That dry spell will end—the rain in Spain will fall mainly on the plain again!—on March 15, 2018, when a new production of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 tuner, adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, begins previews at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater.
The casting of the revival is, one might say, promising. Playing cockney charmer Eliza Doolittle, originated by Julie Andrews on Broadway and Audrey Hepburn in the Oscar-winning 1964 film, will be Lauren Ambrose, best known for playing Claire Fisher on Six Feet Under but also fondly remembered for her superb Juliet in the 2007 Shakespeare in the Park production of the Bard's teen-lust tragedy. And in the small but plum non-singing role of Mrs. Higgins, the mother of Eliza's demanding mentor, will be the great Diana Rigg, the 1960s Avengers badass now enjoying a career renaissance for her tart performance as the vengeful Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones.
Also, there are men. Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is on board to play the potentially show-stealing part of Eliza's father, the hard-drinking Alfred Doolittle. True, Butz is only 11 years older than Ambrose, but this is the theater, and anyhow, women have been playing the mothers of men barely younger than them in movies for decades. (Hi, Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate! Hey, Melissa Leo in The Wrestler!) And the leading role of language snob Henry Higgins, immortalized by Rex Harrison on stage and screen, will be played by British stage star Fonfuh Fonfuh-Fonfuh. Just kidding: He has a real name, and it is Harry Hadden-Paton, which admittedly is pretty much the same thing. American audiences may recall Hadden-Paton as the noble swain who rescued Lady Edith from spinsterhood in the final season of Downton Abbey, but if any role ever called for bringing over a relatively obscure English actor it is Henry Higgins. And the actor is actually younger than Lauren Ambrose. Take that, patriarchy!
Lincoln Center Theater's revival of My Fair Lady will be directed by Bartlett Sher, who has previously helmed sterling revivals of South Pacific, The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof. Tickets cost $87–$177, and will be available starting Sunday, October 29.
Want to see the best musical theater in New York? Get tickets to upcoming Broadway shows.