The 20- year-old Julie Andrews was experienced as a British Vaudeville actress, but “young and green” on the Broadway stage, when, in 1955, she was cast in the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. After a rocky start during rehearsals, where she interacted with the temperamental Rex Harrison (Henry Higgins), Andrews remembers the experience as “the great learning period” of her life. She recalls an intense, uninterrupted 48-hour period during rehearsals when she and the show’s director, Moss Hart, “hammered through each scene.” Through the process, Andrews claims that she “became” Eliza, and that the character was forever etched into her soul.
Opening on Broadway on March 15, 1956, My Fair Lady, an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, ran for a record setting 2,717 performances. Its lushly elegant music was written by the Austrian-American composer, Frederick Loewe, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
Early in the first act of My Fair Lady, the Cockney flower girl, Eliza, dreams of a better life in the song, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly. Establishing the innocence and vulnerability of Eliza’s character, the song sets the stage for Professor Higgins’ impending phonetics-based social experiment.
Julie Andrews gave this performance of Wouldn’t It Be Loverly on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1961:
Featured Image: Julie Andrews performs “Wouldn’t it be Loverly” in the original Broadway production of “My Fair Lady”