During a long-running show the actors are fortunate to have a continuing stream of well-wishers see their performances. But even when a production lasts a year or two or ten there are inevitably those who don’t have the opportunity to be audience members. So I asked the cast of My Fair Lady: whom do you fantasize could see you perform on that Beaumont stage?
The answers broke down into three categories: people known to the actors, people the actors wish they knew, and people who fit neither of the two other categories.
Ensemble member JoAnna Rhinehart mentioned Clinton King, Jr., who performed on Broadway in Bubbling Brown Sugar and Sophisticated Ladies. Rhinehart said King was her first mentor and first jazz dance instructor. “Always encouraging and a perfectionist, he repeatedly declared that I was destined for greatness in the musical-theater genre.”
Rhinehart said that, should King have lived long enough to have seen her in My Fair Lady, she would have thanked him “for seeing me and embracing my rebellious, free spirit” and “for guiding me and teaching me how to channel my energy into the creative/positive avenues of music and dance.”
Ensemble member Blair Ross mentioned someone she wish she knew as the person she’d most like to see her in My Fair Lady: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Ross explained: “I admire [her] for many reasons. Born in Argentina, she studied finance at university and then attained her M.B.A. here in the U.S. She went on to have a very successful career as an investment banker” before marrying King Wilhelm of the Netherlands. Queen Maxima is, Ross continued, “an enthusiastic supporter of the arts.”
But why invite this royal to My Fair Lady? Because, Ross said, Queen Maxima “is known for her bright outfits and enormous hats and I’d love to take her backstage to show her all of Cathy Zuber’s extraordinary costumes. I’d love to get her to try on my beautiful Ascot hat – but I might not get it back!”
Harry Hadden-Paton, who plays Higgins, is in fact acquainted with aristocrats – Sarah, Duchess of York is his godmother – but he did not mention any well-born personage as the one he’d most like to see his performance in My Fair Lady. Hadden-Paton’s choice fits no category. So whom would he like to see his Higgins? “It’d be my younger self,” Hadden-Paton replied. “I’d tell him to stick with” his studies – not only the acting he studied as a young man at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) but the more academic courses he followed earlier at the UK’s Durham University. Hadden-Paton would tell his younger self that “maybe studying French phonetics might not be so pointless after all.”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com