4YE’s Year In Review: My Fair Lady Revival Shows 2018 Deserves An Eliza For The Modern Day

Credit: Joan Marcus

Growing up, I was a nerdy musical theatre kid who loved belting out show tunes. To be frank not much has changed in adulthood. I wish it was socially acceptable to burst into song to convey some deep emotion during the day, but alas, it’s never ideal.

For 2018, I’m grateful for many pop culture moments, but having just returned from a trip to New York to study drama and performance, I’m still high from Broadway and all of its glamour. While I saw many performances during my time in the Big Apple, one of my favorite musicals was My Fair Lady.

Named the best Broadway musical of 2018, My Fair Lady is phenomenal. Currently starring Laura Benanti as Eliza Doolittle and Harry Hadden-Paton as Henry Higgins, the musical tells the story about a young Cockney flower seller (Eliza) who is transformed into a ‘proper lady’ by Henry, a linguistics professor.

My Fair Lady originally premiered on Broadway in 1956 with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison (who later went on to star in the film adaptation with Audrey Hepburn).

In the 2018 version, My Fair Lady is no doubt timely after the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement of the past few years. Laura Benanti’s spin on Eliza is hilarious, confident, and self-assured, and after seeing the scandals break with numerous male directors in Hollywood, Benanti’s characterization is poignant and deliberate.

The theatre, like many forms of pop culture, is reflective of society, and Laura Benanti’s version of Eliza is a reminder to many women that our voices matter and that we must fight for our opportunities. As Henry Higgins offers Eliza numerous opportunities, it is Eliza’s wit and determination that makes those opportunities achievable.

In the final scene, Laura Benanti’s Eliza does not choose to remain with the unhinged Henry Higgins, but rather offers him a kiss on the cheek and marches out the door.

In the close of 2018, pop culture has offered many numerous moments, but as I reflect on the strides women have taken in the past year, I cannot help but gloat about My Fair Lady and its timeliness for the present movement taking shape.

My Fair Lady is currently playing at New York’s Lincoln Centre through July 2019 and tickets are available here.