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Our 5 Favorite Eliza Doolittles

November 6, 2017 by Anne Berkowitz
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The beloved Lerner and Lowe musical My Fair Lady is based off the classic George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. Both center around Eliza Doolittle, a poor flower shop girl in London who is taught manners and grace by celebrated professor Henry Higgins, who makes a bet that he can pass Eliza off as a duchess with some lessons and expensive clothing. Requiring a great amount of versatility and wit, Eliza Doolittle is one of the greatest leading roles in theater history. Here is a list of some of our favorite famous Elizas throughout the years. Don’t miss the Quintessence Theatre’s reimagined production of My Fair Lady, now playing at the Sedgwick Theater until December 17th.

1. Julie Andrews

Before she was a dame, the lovely Julie Andrews rose to fame when she originated the role of Eliza Doolittle. Julie’s performance earned her a Tony Award nomination and led many more roles that began what would become an illustrious career. However, in spite of much support, she was not offered the role of Eliza in the film adaptation of My Fair Lady. The role was given to Audrey Hepburn, who was much more established and famous than Julie at the time.

2. Audrey Hepburn & Marni Nixon

In spite of replacing the beloved Julie Andrews in the movie version of My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn made a delightful and endearing Eliza Doolittle. The movie went on to win 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. While Audrey performed Eliza’s journey and transformation beautifully (and often times, hilariously), it was the gifted singer Marni Nixon who provided the soaring vocals that rounded out the memorable performance.

3. Martine McCutcheon

While actress and singer Martine McCutcheon may best be known to Americans as Natalie from the hit film Love Actually, she is better known to the Brits for her gorgeous voice and renowned career on the British stage and screen. Martine won the esteemed Olivier Award for her performance as Eliza in the 2001 West End revival of My Fair Lady. Martine’s understudy was then little-known actress Kerry Ellis, now considered to be the “First Lady of the West End.”

4. Kelli O’Hara

10 years ago, multitalented stage actress Kelli O’Hara made waves when she performed as Eliza in a New York Philharmonic concert production of My Fair Lady alongside Kelsey Grammer as Henry Higgins. Their performances were so well-received that there was talk of both Bartlett Shear and Julie Andrews directing a fully-fledged revival of the musical at Lincoln Center. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, neither productions came to fruition.

5. Melissa Errico

The 1993 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady starred newcomer Melissa Errico as Eliza Doolittle. While the revival received mixed reviews for it’s darker interpretation of the original musical, Melissa’s performance was a standout. She revised her performance for a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles a decade after her Broadway performance.

Lovely Eliza Doolittle and “the perfect musical” My Fair Lady have returned to the Philadelphia stage in the Quintessence Theatre Group’s current production. You can save over 60% on tickets with TodayTix, with seats starting at just $10 to My Fair Lady!

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