Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (right) and composer Frederick Loewe (left), 1962
On March 15, 1956, the curtain of the Mark Hellinger Theater rose to reveal an improbable Broadway success. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, and Noel Coward had declined the musical, concerned that its book was irrevocably flawed. Mary Martin had turned down the lead, and a 21-year-old actress, in only her second New York role, had been hired to complement a leading man who couldn’t sing. Yet My Fair Lady went on to a triumphant 6-year run, cementing Broadway stardom for Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, and immortalizing the names of its creators, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
In temperament and background Lerner and Loewe were wildly dissimilar, but the two accommodated their often-tempestuous relationship to generate brilliantly crafted musicals such as Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi, and Camelot.
Learn the origins of enduring songs like “It’s Almost Like Being in Love,” “The Night They Invented Champagne,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “If Ever I Would Leave You,” and “They Call the Wind Maria”; enjoy clips from the film adaptations of the stage productions; explore personal correspondence; and probe the dual genius of this Viennese composer and silver-spooned New York lyricist in a lively evening led by pianist and American music specialist Robert Wyatt.
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