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March 15: My Fair Lady

Lawrence Bush
March 14, 2017
My Fair Lady debuted on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theater on this date in 1956. It was written by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe and directed by Moss Hart, and it set a record for the longest run of a show on Broadway up until that time (2,717 performances). My Fair Lady probably boasts the best-known score in musical theater history (certainly one of the most adaptable to jazz), with show-stoppers that include “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Get Me to the Church On Time,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” The musical was based on Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (not Jewish), a play with strong class themes; Shaw refused to see it converted into a musical, which had to wait until his death in 1950. To see an excerpt from the film version, look below. “Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak? This verbal class distinction, by now, Should be antique. If you spoke as she does, sir, Instead of the way you do, Why, you might be selling flowers, too!” --Lerner and Loewe, “Why Can’t the English?”

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.