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Coming up RosesThe Broadway Musical in the 1950s$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140583.001.0001

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My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

(p.149) 10 My Fair Lady
Coming up Roses

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

My Fair Lady was a phenomenon, running for almost seven years on Broadway, with 2,717 performances. It held the long-run record for musicals, had spun off more foreign productions than any other show, and had simply become the summoning title in any discussion of hit musicals. This raises the question of why My Fair Lady seem to embody the brilliance and beauty of the American musical in a way that no other title was thought to. Critic Ken Mandelbaum says that the show's heavily English background gave it what we might call “intelligentsia control”. At the time, musicals were looked upon by some as entertainment for the tired businessman; those who felt then that musicals were not on the same artistic plane as the best plays and who were ashamed of adoring The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, or Li'l Abner felt safe raving about Fair Lady because it was not just a Broadway musical but also a play by Shaw.

Keywords:   My Fair Lady, intelligentsia control, plays, hit musicals

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