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Lauren Ambrose Returns to Her Roots in ‘My Fair Lady’

April 2, 2018 by Suzy Evans
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(Photographed by Nathan Johnson)

Lauren Ambrose was terrified to tackle a musical on Broadway — and that’s exactly why she wanted to do one.

When she heard that Lincoln Center Theater was producing a revival of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” which opens on Broadway on April 19, she asked to audition and landed the role of Eliza Doolittle, the headstrong flower saleswoman who trains to be a lady of society.

“She just blew everyone out of the water,” says director Bartlett Sher, who worked with Ambrose on “Awake and Sing.” “She’s just a great actress. She captures the depth, the warmth, the humor, the fire. She makes big choices. There were plenty of other people there. She was just head and shoulders ahead of everyone else.”

But don’t take the lack of tuners on Ambrose’s résumé as a lack of desire to sing. “I really have been wanting to do a musical for a long time, and for various reasons because of either timing of my life or things falling apart, it’s been constantly postponed,” she says.

She got her start on “Star Search” as a teenager, and on “Six Feet Under” she had short “singing fantasies.” She was also attached to star in a revival of “Funny Girl” in 2011, directed by Sher, which fell apart due to lack of funding. “It was my intention to do this kind of work long ago. Better late than never. I definitely still have a lot to learn about it,” she says.

One of the things she’s learning is that she and Eliza have a lot in common. Ambrose calls Eliza an “old-fashioned superhero” because she dares to defy society’s expectations of her, and Ambrose feels like she’s doing something similar with “My Fair Lady.”

“It’s very moving to me that she sets out to indeed change her life. She’s definitely out of her depth, as am I. She’s in new territory trying to learn a new way of being in the world,” Ambrose says, adding that being in the show right now feels fortuitous. “I really believe that the projects that I do come to me for some reason. I have something immense to learn from each one. It never fails.”

Styled by Julianna Alabado
Hair by Marco Santini
Makeup by Rebecca Restrepo

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