An all-Yale cast and crew of more than 100 alumni, students, faculty, and staff will present a concert version of Lerner and Loewe’s iconic musical “My Fair Lady” on Saturday, Jan. 25, for two performances only, in New Haven’s historic Shubert Theater, where the musical had its world premiere almost 60 years ago.
The production marks the launch of Yale Musical Theater of the Air (YMTA), an initiative that brings together professional musical theater alumni from Yale College, the School of Drama, and the School of Music with current Yale students to mount a professional quality, concert version of a classic American musical, complete with dialogue and live sound effects. YMTA is sponsored by the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA), the Shen Musical Theater Curriculum, and Yale University Bands, and is led by the same team who created last year’s sold-out all-Yale production of “Kiss Me, Kate.”
“Yale’s rich tradition of musical theater began more than a century ago with Cole Porter’s genius,” notes Amber Edwards ’82, producer of both “Kiss Me, Kate” and “My Fair Lady.” “The depth and breadth of the company of ‘My Fair Lady’ proves that the tradition is thriving.” Cast members include Tony Award nominee Reg Rogers YSD ’93, who will star as Henry Higgins, and Tony and Emmy Award winner David Alan Grier YSD ’81, who will play Alfred P. Doolittle. Felicia Ricci ’08 portrays Eliza Doolittle.
The alumni — who hail from locales from coast to coast — volunteer their time and talent, with many members of the “Kiss Me, Kate” company returning to participate in “My Fair Lady,” including director Marc Vietor ’83.
“The format that we have created puts the focus on the score and the dialogue which, in ‘My Fair Lady,’ cannot be improved upon,” notes Vietor. “As happened with our production of ‘Kiss Me, Kate,’ I expect the show will come alive in ways it hasn’t ever before.”
“My Fair Lady” will be performed in a style reminiscent of a 1950s radio broadcast. A 50-piece orchestra onstage will play the original Broadway orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett, under the direction of veteran Broadway musical director David Loud ’83. The cast is arrayed downstage, and sound effects — including doors opening and closing, taxi horns, and thunderstorms — are created live by a pair of foley artists in the manner of classic radio dramas and musicals. A narrator, played by Bill Kux YSD ’83, will set the scene for the audience.
“Even those of us who grew up listening to the original cast recording of ‘My Fair Lady’ are going to be surprised by the richness of the score when performed live, in its entirety,” says Loud. “I consider this a nearly perfect musical, and it’s thrilling to be able to introduce it to new generation of students who are singing and playing this classic music for the first time.”
According to Mark Dollhopf ’77, executive director of the AYA, “YMTA represents a perfect storm of inter-generational collaboration. It offers current students a rare chance to work closely with professionals, and for alumni, it offers a chance to give back to Yale — perhaps for the first time — by mentoring the next generation of musical theater artists.”
“My Fair Lady” will be performed at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Shubert Theatre, 247 College St. Tickets are available online. Complete cast and production team information is available is available here.
A limited number of VIP ticket packages for the 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances are also available. VIP ticket holders will have access to the best seats in the theater, receive “My Fair Lady” memorabilia, and attend a post-performance champagne toast with the stars of the play. Those with tickets to the 8 p.m. performance will also be invited to the cast party.