Musicals are back!
Segerstrom Center for the Arts presented its first musical in 20 months last November when the venue hosted a spectacular production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Now, Segerstrom Center is starting the year off with another musical that also looks to rank high on the spectacular meter: the North American tour of Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed production of Lerner & Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” running in Segerstrom Hall January 11 through 23.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, it revolves around Eliza Doolittle, a flower seller in London who is taken under the wing of Professor Henry Higgins when he makes a wager that he can alter Eliza’s cockney drawl and transform her into a presentable high society lady.
This revival won five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Revival of Musical and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical Revival.
Boasting a score that contains such now-classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” Lincoln Center Theater’s production of “My Fair Lady” was hailed by The New York Times as “Thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was. A marvelous and transformative revival.”
The production, which premiered in the spring of 2018, ended its run at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater on July 7, 2019 after playing 548 performances.
“My Fair Lady” is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” and premiered on Broadway in March, 1956. The legendary original production won six Tony Awards including Best Musical and ran for 2,717 performances.
“My Fair Lady” was made into a memorable movie in 1964 starring Audrey Hepburn at Eliza and Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins.
In the touring production coming to Segerstrom Center, Laird Mackintosh takes on the role of Professor Higgins. Among Mackintosh’s many credits are The Phantom and Monsieur André in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.
According to Mackintosh, this tour was launched in the fall of 2019 but stopped in March of 2020 when Covid hit. The tour resumed last September.
“We’re lucky to be back on the road—I’m grateful to be able to do it and to be back in the theater,” said Mackintosh during a phone interview from Seattle where “My Fair Lady” was finishing a run before heading to Arizona and then Costa Mesa. “People want this, there is a real desire to have this communal theater experience again.”
When the tour stopped, Mackintosh took his first long break after working nonstop for 20 years. During the pandemic, he did a mixture of online theater work and taught workshops and master classes, which sustained him until the tour started again.
Mackintosh is relishing his role as Henry Higgins. It’s a role he said was written for Rex Harrison, who originated the role on Broadway and later starred in the film version. According to Mackintosh, the music was written in a narrow vocal range to suit Harrison’s voice.
“The show is like a play with music,” said Mackintosh. “So much of George Bernard Shaw’s text of ‘Pygmalion’ is in this show to an extraordinary degree. It’s not often an actor gets a chance to perform that much dialogue, so I have relished the opportunity to sink my teeth into it. The structure of the play is very unusual but it works beautifully. It’s a truly extraordinary book and it has the most beautiful music ever written. I feel very lucky to be doing it. It’s a dream role.”
Mackintosh said the audience response to the show has been wonderful.
“This is likely the first show that an audience has seen being back in the theater,” he said. “We are carrying that banner proudly. The production has all the elements that people expect to see and want to see: Tony Award winning costumes, a huge beautiful set with a giant house that spins around on stage, a gorgeous orchestra that travel with us, and a large cast. And this show is so relevant, it really is. Audiences are amazed that this show was put together in the 1950s because the dialogue is so trenchant, the ideas are so relevant to our culture today.”
Ultimately, said Mackintosh, “This is a show that people talk about. It really inspires conversation. It covers class, social structure, the relationships between men and women. I don’t think audiences will be disappointed. This show has so many levels. It has something or everyone.”
Visit www.SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787 for tickets.
Audience Advisory: The Center’s updated COVID-19 policy requires ticket holders to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to attend all indoor performances and events at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. “Fully vaccinated” means your performance is at least 14 days after your final vaccine dose. To enter the theatre, please bring proof of vaccination, either your physical vaccination card, a picture of your vaccination card, or a digital vaccination record. Most California residents may request a digital vaccination record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov
Those who are under age 12 and anyone without proof of being fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours (3 days) prior to entering the theatre.
Masks are required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at Segerstrom Center.
Performance ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.