Call us traditionalists, but after we reviewed the current theater offerings we opted for a fifty-year-old musical based on a one-hundred-plus-year-old play. We loved it!
The Drury Lane Theater is the oldest theater in the world still in continuous use as a playhouse, according to its program. The present building was completed in 1812. The boxes have gilt reliefs across the front and the royal box is identified by the coat of arms of England. As daytime people, we chose a matinee, and our hearts sank as we joined several large groups of small children, but the moment the lights went down the chatter stopped, and once again we were among the best-behaved audience we could want. We hope all of those lovely children will grow up to have their name in lights!
The songs were familiar but provided fresh pleasure because of the excellent performances, choreography and stage sets. We were captivated by Alfred Doolittle and his mates "With a Little Bit o' Luck" and enchanted by the lavish costumes on Ascot Opening Day.
After the play we began to examine our reactions to the story, and realized that both of us were disturbed by the fate of Eliza. In this performance, at least, Henry Higgins is the crusty and arrogant bachelor to the end (we vaguely remember Rex Harrison being softer and more winning near the end). The scenes where Eliza returns to her old haunts at Covent Garden, then finally to Higgins' home are poignant, and the truce in the final scene doesn't resolve the difference in position between the two. We wonder how the story of Pygmalion might be written today.