BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

A sumptuous production of the musical My Fair Lady will arrive in the West End next year with some crucial updates for modern audiences.

There will be no ‘old man’ to play Professor Henry Higgins singing The Rain In Spain with 19-year-old flower girl Eliza Doolittle, because that would be ‘creepy’, says the show’s celebrated director.

Instead, Bartlett Sher wants Downton Abbey star Harry Hadden-Paton, 40, who he directed in the glorious Broadway revival of the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe show three years ago, to play the part at the London Coliseum in May.

‘It would be wonderful if it could be Harry,’ Sher told me from New York. 

‘Someone like Harry,’ he added ‘represents who Higgins really should be. He shouldn’t be an old man. What exacerbates the abuse of the piece is this older man preying on this young girl whereas Higgins in the original script couldn’t have been more than 40.’

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

There will be no ‘old man’ to play Professor Henry Higgins singing The Rain In Spain with 19-year-old flower girl Eliza Doolittle, because that would be ‘creepy’, says the show’s celebrated director

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Sher insisted that Rex Harrison as an older interpretaton of the linguistic expert in the original 1956 show, opposite Julie Andrews, and with Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 film is: ‘Creepy. Awful. We can’t do that’

Sher insisted that Rex Harrison as an older interpretaton of the linguistic expert in the original 1956 show, opposite Julie Andrews, and with Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 film is: ‘Creepy. Awful. We can’t do that.’

But Harrison’s casting became the tradition, Sher said.

‘Some older actor would take on this role and I’m not directing it that way just because it’s really not in the script and it does change it into something different.’

Hadden-Paton, who portrayed the Queen’s private secretary Martin Charteris, with Claire Foy as the monarch, in the first two seasons of The Crown, won a Tony nomination as Higgins alongside Lauren Ambrose as Eliza and Diana Rigg, in her last stage performance, as Mrs Higgins, his mother.

The actor has just opened in new Lincoln Center show Flying Over Sunset but Sher hopes that he would be available to play the Coliseum where performances begin on May 7. 

‘He’s sort of the ideal for me,’ Sher told me.

He said the search for an Eliza and other principal roles will start within weeks. 

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Bartlett Sher wants Downton Abbey star Harry Hadden-Paton, 40, who he directed in the glorious Broadway revival of the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe show three years ago, to play the part at the London Coliseum in May

Other parts for what he said would be a multi-cultural cast will begin in January when he’s in London to rehearse To Kill A Mockingbird with Rafe Spall.

‘It could be very interesting in our era to see this show completely differently following the kind of change we’ve all been through, especially in a place like England where you’ve had a Meghan Markle come into the Royal Family and go through it,’ he said. 

‘The class stuff there [in My Fair Lady] is very vivid and very clear’ and audiences are ‘super sensitive to what is required to move up to a different class, to have different opportunities’.

Class is key, he argued, because while ‘issues of race, equality, inclusion and diversity are all important, they’re always a little bit connected to class’.

Producer James Nederlander, who has the stage rights to the show, has wanted to bring My Fair Lady to London for years. 

Cameron Mackintosh and Trevor Nunn did the last major revival more than 20 years ago.

I saw Sher’s production in New York and it’s a spectacular version packed with classic songs, including Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, but he has added in some of the screenplay George Bernard Shaw wrote for the 1938 film adapatation of Pygmalion, the source for the story.

  • Tickets for My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum go on sale Nov 23 via myfairladymusical.co.uk. 

Why East End Elliot is on the up 

Elliot Edusah is a self-described East End boy, born in Newham General Hospital, and educated at a Catholic boys’ school where, he said, everyone wanted to be footballers, musicians or rappers. 

But Edusah was interested in acting.

He signed up for classes at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and worked there as an usher where he studied performances on stage nightly.

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Soon after, he signed up for the BRIT performing school across London in Croydon.

‘I was an East End boy who hadn’t left East London,’ he told me over breakfast at Soho House. 

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Elliot Edusah is a self-described East End boy, born in Newham General Hospital, and educated at a Catholic boys’ school where, he said, everyone wanted to be footballers, musicians or rappers

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

But Edusah was interested in acting. He signed up for classes at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and worked there as an usher where he studied performances on stage nightly

‘That was where I had to grow up,’ he recalled, noting that three hours of his day was spent travelling. ‘As a 16-year-old, that’s not what you want to be doing.’

Then, with backing from his biochemist dad and nursery nurse mum, he did a three-year acting course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. 

When he went to see his old friends they were concerned that he was saying thank you and ‘this instead of dat’ and wondered why he was wearing a shirt instead of a tracksuit top.

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Edusah could well be talking about the role of Cappo, the part he plays in Reggie Yates’s fun film debut Pirates, supported by the BFI and Hillbilly Films

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Following roles in 1917, Small Axe, Sitting In Limbo and other projects, Pirates is his biggest role to date. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of the East Ender and his two pals

Edusah could well be talking about the role of Cappo, the part he plays in Reggie Yates’s fun film debut Pirates, supported by the BFI and Hillbilly Films. 

It has a terrific soundtrack and is about three friends – Jordan Peters and Reda Elazouar make up the trio – looking for a party, and a girl to kiss, as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999.

Cappo’s a university student who has returned home to celebrate New Year, driving around in an old banger called Custard Cream. 

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

It has a terrific soundtrack and is about three friends – Jordan Peters and Reda Elazouar make up the trio – looking for a party, and a girl to kiss, as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999

Those years studying ‘gave me perspective to understand the change element of going back to your mates,’ he said.

Following roles in 1917, Small Axe, Sitting In Limbo and other projects, Pirates is his biggest role to date. 

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of the East Ender and his two pals.

  • Pirates goes on release November 26

Watch out for… 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson who is betting that his big comic-book action film Kraven The Hunter will be a hit. 

The film’s in pre-production but Taylor-Johnson has signed a three-picture deal to shoot further movies based on a Marvel comic tale about a big-game hunter whose mission in life is to hunt down Spider-Man. 

The actor has bulked up his biceps for the part.

, BAZ BAMIGBOYE: My Fair Lady? It’s just like Meghan Markle’s life, The Today News USA

Taylor-Johnson has signed a three-picture deal to shoot further movies based on a Marvel comic tale about a big-game hunter whose mission in life is to hunt down Spider-Man

The first Kraven The Hunter film will be released in 2023. It’s part of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man Universe of films. Not to be confused with the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films. 

Taylor-Johnson also pops up in Matthew Vaughn’s rip-roaring forthcoming epic espionage adventure movie ,The King’s Man alongside Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Harris Dickinson , Djimon Hounsou and Matthew Goode.

Paolo Sorrentino’s beautiful film The Hand Of God will screen at the From Venice To London film festival, a short season of seven films that were shown at this year’s Venice Film Festival. 

It opened last night with Maggie Gyllenhaal’s film The Lost Daughter, starring Olivia Colman on top form. 

Sorrentino’s film is inspired by his childhood in Naples. It’s being shown at the Curzon, Soho, on Monday, goes on limited cinema release on November 24 and streams on Netflix from December 15.