Lily Casson

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Lily Casson

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Singer & Lover of Musicals

1950s is known as Broadway's Golden Decade as it was a very fertile time for the world of musicals - both film and theatre alike. Rodgers and Hammerstein (most famous for The Sound of Music and Oklahoma among others)continued their success during the 50s with four of their shows running simultaneously. The movie musical business boomed with classics made throughout the decade including Singin' in the Rain, The King and I and An American in Paris. Dames such as Ethel Merman shaped the shows that were staged and the world was mesmorized by the world of show business.

MY FAIR LADY

HIGH SOCIETY

 

THE SHOW & SHOW HISTORY

 

A musical telling of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, My Fair Lady was first staged in 1956 and starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews. Written by acclaimed musical writing duo, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, it tells the story of the unlikely relationship between Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, and Henry Higgins, an eminent professor of phonetics. Hearing Higgins boasting that he can make Eliza 'speak properly' within a matter of weeks, his new acquaintance, Colonel Pickering, challenges him to a bet to enable her to be passed off as a Lady at the forthcoming Embassy Ball.

 

Known for songs such as 'Wouldn't it be lovely' and 'I could have danced all night,' My Fair Lady gives the audience a view into the class division of the late Edwardian era and is a timeless classic that endures to this day. Since its premiere, it has been made into a multi Oscar award-winning film, and revived all over the world.

WHY I HEART IT

 

My Fair Lady has felt closer than most shows as Rex Harrison is my great great uncle. From a young age I was aware of the family connection, which was very exciting for someone as excited as me about the world of theatre. The film, if long. is captivating and made me aware historically of a world of class that no longer exists. I saw the touring show on stage in the Assembly Rooms in Tunbridge Wells but the film and soundtrack continue to be more special to me because of Rex and his unique style that inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

SONG IN CONTEXT

 

In a show there are normally a couple of hits but every song in My Fair Lady is memorable. But one of the less well known songs is Without You that is sung by Eliza when she has left Higgins' home to seek refuge with his mother. Frustrated by his behaviour towards her after her success at the Ball, Eliza takes the opportunity to tell him all the things that will still happen in her life, even if she is no longer in his company, showing she is perfectly able to cope on her own. As she says at the beginning of the song 'Yes my reverberating friend you are not the beginning and the end!'

 

THE LOWDOWN

Music & Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Based on Pygmalian by George Bernard Shaw

Originally staged at Mark Hellinger Theatre, 1956

 

MY FAVOURITE CAST

(ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST)

Professer Henry Higgins : Rex Harrison

Eliza Doolittle : Julie Andrews

Alfred P Doolittle : Stanley Holloway

Colonel Hugh Pickering : Robert Coote

 

THE SHOW & SHOW HISTORY

 

The story follows the life of the socialite Lorde family preparing for the coming second marriage of their eldest, spoilt daughter, Tracey. The night before her wedding, Tracey's Uncle Willie throws a party to celebrate the occasion and the guests gather. Amongst whom are a couple of news journalists undercover to get the story of the century to secure themselves a job, Tracey's mother and father who are separated but still in love, and Tracey's ex-husband, CK Dexter Haven, who arrives to make amends with Tracey and make her re-marry him properly after their failed marriage. We follow their entwined stories through the party and beyond, to see whether Tracey will get back together with her true love, Dexter, or will go through with marrying her self-made commercial fiancée, George Kitteridge.

 

In addition to the songs made famous by the original film, such as 'Well did you evah?' and 'Who wants to be a Millionaire?,' this staged version of the show, first premiered in 1998, includes a number of songs from Cole Porter's extensive back catalogue, some of which I hadn't heard before. These include 'Once upon a time,' 'She's got that thing' and 'Just One of those Things' among others.

WHY I HEART IT

 

I got the chance to see the show at London's Old Vic Theatre in 2015. With music by Cole Porter, the show was directed by Maria Friedman and blew me away with the staging and cast, led by Kate Fleetwood as Tracey. It was performed 'in the round,' with the stage in the middle of the auditorium, surrounded by seats, which meant all of the action happened right in front of you, sweeping you into the story with the cast.

SONG IN CONTEXT

 

Once upon a time and True Love are the 1st act closer and had me in tears at how beautiful the songs were. Tracey, having been given a model replica of the boat she travelled in for her honeymoon by her ex-husband, Dexter, sits beside the pool and reflects on the love she felt for Dexter and how the day has changed her perspective. She thinks about how everything has been perfect till now and why it has changed suddenly and reminisces about her fated romance which are all inspired by the True Love, the boat they travelled in and it encapsulates all the love that Dexter and Tracey feel for each other.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter

Based on 1956 film, High Society

Originally staged at St James Theatre 1998

 

MY FAVOURITE CAST

(2015 WEST END REVIVAL CAST)

Tracey Lorde :  Kate Fleetwood

C K Dexter Haven : Rupert Young

Mother (Margaret) Lorde : Barbara Flynn

Dinah Lorde : Ellie Bamber

Mike Connor : Jamie Parker

Liz Imbrie : Anabel Scholey

George Kitteredge : Richard Grieve

Seth Lord : Christopher Ravenscroft

Uncle Willlie : Jeff Rawle

1950s

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