7:30pm- Really nice house. Very vocal with lots of laughs and applause. Nice show.
So reports the stage manager, Kevin Brannick, about the April 29th, 2016 performance of MY FAIR LADY. Just below this, he notes:
Opening Night. Da Ning Theatre. Shanghai, China.
And with this, a professional production of MY FAIR LADY has come to China for the very first time. The set, a handsome version of 1910 London, was sent by sea to China, and the musicians, crew, and staff have just completed a very short week of technical rehearsals. And now, to the delight of the New York- and London-based company of actors, singers, and dancers, this Shanghai audience has indeed rewarded all of them with “lots of laughs and applause.”
The melodies of Frederick Loewe and the wit and words of Alan Jay Lerner seem to be singing and speaking an international language that truly connects with this audience, with or without the help of the local language (here Mandarin) in simultaneous translation.
Aurora Florence, who plays Eliza Doolittle, says she is “astonished” that “they get it so well.” When her Eliza pronounces “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” properly for the very first time, the audience bursts into applause as if to say, “Yes, girl… you got it and WE are rooting for you!” Chris Carsten’s Henry Higgins is greeted with very understanding laughter for his quips about women in “Hymn to Him,” and the conductor, Peter Nillsen, is almost embarrassed by the ovation given when the orchestra takes its bow at the end of the evening…
The three-hour evening, that is! It’s an evening where the interest and enthusiasm never seem to wane, and where a musical written sixty years ago still speaks to a Shanghai audience, as it will undoubtedly continue to do in the many cities that follow on this seven-week tour of China.
Yes, Lerner and Loewe and Shaw still have something to say; and say it they do. This story of a young woman trying to make a better place for herself in a society that wants to keep everyone in their “class” seems to have caught the ear and attention of the Chinese theatergoer; most of the performances are sold out.
“Surely, the abundance of talent on the stage is not wasted on these discerning audiences,” Big League Executive Producer Dan Sher adds. “We are delivering a first-class version of this show that is meeting – and hopefully exceeding – their expectations. No strangers to Western musicals like PHANTOM, LION KING, and CATS, many Chinese citizens regard MY FAIR LADY as the “queen” of movie musicals. Our job was to be sure that the joy and pathos and humanity of this story were made clear to the audiences here… just as we have done for those who saw our USA National Tour, or the Singapore engagement that preceded this trip to China. So, once again, we gathered a fine company and let Director Jeffrey B. Moss and Choreographer Denis Jones do the rest.”
From the stage manager’s report, it appears they have succeeded.