When Matt Murphy, the president of Matt Murphy Productions, began thinking about the merchandise to accompany My Fair Lady, song titles sprang to mind. “My first idea,” Murphy told me the other day, “was that we have to do something with the word ‘loverly.’” He added: “Song titles from classic shows are most often where we go for merchandising items.” So this time it was “loverly” and “I could have danced all night” – both lyrics are on tee shirts – and “Get me to the church on time,” which is on a beer stein. (All the merchandise mentioned in this posting is available at shoplct.com)
Another item came from a less-plumbed source: a family holiday. Specifically, the recent vacation that Murphy, his wife, and their three children (7, 5, and 3) took to Taiwan. “My wife,” Murphy said, “has a lot of family there, and this was the first time that my children would be meeting them.”
While in Taipei, the country’s capital, the Murphy family went to an arts-and-crafts market. “There was this table,” Murphy explained, “with beautiful hand-crafted leather flower hair ties, in different colors.” He went on: “I don’t speak Mandarin but my wife does, so I asked her to ask the woman whether, if I bought 25 of the 50 on the table, she would give me a deal. She would. I bought half her stock, and she was the happiest woman in the world.”
Murphy showed the hair ties to members of LCT’s marketing department, with whom he develops show merchandise. It was decided to put them on sale at the two booths in the Vivian Beaumont lobby. Murphy said that initially he wasn't sure if the items would sell. "But they sold very well, and we subsequently ordered 250 more, some of which are available on the website.”
Murphy said that, customarily, the most popular show merchandise is, in order, the cast recording, the souvenir program, magnets, and tee-shirts.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people collect show magnets,” Murphy said. “People come up to the booth and say, ‘I have 75 show magnets on my refrigerator. That’s a very large refrigerator.”
All Broadway shows may have magnets, but perhaps only My Fair Lady has its own tea. It is called the “My Fair Lady Blend.” Slipping into merch-speak, Murphy described it as “a smooth and delicious black tea, created by Harney & Sons. There are 20 sachets.” To which I will add: Each canister features the art of James McMullan, who has done indelible work for so many LCT productions.
“We went back and forth on which tea to use,” Murphy said. “Darjeeling? Earl Grey? But for a London-based show of 100 years ago, we figured that a strong black tea was the most appropriate.”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com