My Fair Lady

Original Broadway Cast

Sony, 2002

REVIEW BY: Elizabeth Crowder

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/15/2008

As a person who loves musicals it is rare that I am able to discern a favorite amongst the myriad of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe. So far, the closest I can get to an all time preferred soundtrack would have to be this remastered recording of the original Broadway cast of My Fair Lady, starring Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins. Part of the reason I love this musical so much is because my boyfriend, John, and I have a series of inside jokes regarding his slight lean towards the Higgins philosophy and my amusement at how like that character he can be. This is definitely a situation where life imitates art and has caused me to love the OBC recording of My Fair Lady even more.

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Taken from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, My Fair Lady is the story of a simple flower girl who aspires to be something more with the help of a language professor. What sets this apart from most stories is that Eliza and Henry Higgins are not the typical girl and boy protagonists.  Eliza is flawed, poor, and abrasive, while Higgins is arrogant, rude, and chauvinistic. In her words, he treats a duchess like a flower girl while his friend and work associate, Colonel Pickering, treats a flower girl like a duchess. That discrepancy is the heart of My Fair Lady, and what sets it apart as such a classic story.

The first highlight for me on this soundtrack is definitely the instrumental portion. Beginning with "Prologue/Why Can't The English," the entirety of My Fair Lady shows Lerner and Loewe's musical strength as well as the stellar direction by Franz Allers. All of these gentlemen won Tony awards for their work on this musical, as did Harrison, with Andrews gaining a nomination. The music throughout each song, like "Get Me To The Church On Time," as well as "On The Street Where You Live."

Classic songs which My Fair Lady is famous for include "The Rain In Spain" (where Eliza has her first breakthrough in speaking lessons) and "I Could Have Danced All Night." Knowing this recording has Julie Andrews in the lead should be all anyone needs to know, as her voice stands as one of the best known in history. "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" shines as Andrews sports her Cockney accent as she dreams of a life different from selling flowers. She is also amazing in "Without You," a sarcastic track aimed at how Higgins is unnecessary to the world ("Without you twirling it, the earth can spin").

The entire musical is completely amazing, though this soundtrack is far and away better than the 1964 film version, with Harrison in his Broadway role along with Audrey Hepburn. Granted, Hepburn has her own twist on Eliza, but only because Andrews was busy working on Mary Poppins. Taking the time to check out both versions is beneficial for any musical lover.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Elizabeth Crowder and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony, and is used for informational purposes only.