The place is London; the time, 1912. It is a blustery March evening outside Covent Garden, where a flower girl is selling bouquets. Amongst the busy market that night is Professor Henry Higgins. The flower girls name is Eliza Doolittle. Nearly everyone will know the rest of the story because, based on the play Pygmalion, music and lyrics by Lerner and Loewe, My Fair Lady is one of the all time greats of the Musical Theatre. The Stage version played 2717 performances on Broadway when it was released, The Film starred Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn and Stanley Holloway with such great songs like Wouldn’t it be loverly, with a little bit of luck, I could have danced all night, On the street where you live and Get Me To The Church on time. Later this week My Fair Lady will be performed on the Stage of The Embassy Theatre Skegness from the 17th-19th of March and I can’t wait to take my seat on Friday night.
What has made the Musicals so popular through the years, even in times of recession Musical Theatres have played to packed houses, in many cases they have been sold out a year in advance. For me my love of musicals started in the 50s when I was taken by an aunt of mine to see the first showings of all the great Rogers and Hammerstein Musicals at our local cinema, starting in 55 with Oklahoma, 56 The King and I and in 58 my favourite of them all South Pacific. To celebrate wife Kath’s 40th Birthday in 1984 favourite we travelled to Salzburg, Austria to visit many of the locations featured in The Sound of Music which has always been her favourite musical. One of our greatest thrills was to go and see Tommy Steele and the late great Roy Castle in Singing In The Rain at The London Palladian.
So what has made the musical theatre so popular for so long? We can go back to ancient history and Song and dance were a major part of the way we lived whether it was a ceremony of preparation for war or has a part of a seasonal festival. We all at some time love to either sing or dance and they offer joy and glamour to our lives. Over the last 2 decades the musical has been more popular than ever first with lavish productions of Andrew Lloyd Webbers Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats and then the rock musicals like Joseph, We Will Rock You, Hairspray and Mamma Mia.
I suppose one of the main reasons for their continued popularity is they offer a means for people to find fame, many of today’s stars got there first brake in a chorus line. I shall not be dancing on Friday night but you try stopping me from singing along to all those great songs (very quietly of course lol)