BWW Blog: Brandon Davidson of MY FAIR LADY - Asking Prince Charles on a Date
On the first day of rehearsal, I found out the woman playing my mother was a native of England. I would be lying if I didn't say I had to face & accept the challenge of speaking with her in her native English dialect. I'm from San Diego and we say things like "dude" & "surf," not "tea & crumpets." Thankfully, I was well prepared from a handful of semesters in dialect training during my college years.
For My Fair Lady, adding dialect work in rehearsal is a layer unto itself. In fact, a dialect coach, Jeffrey Matthews, was present for run-throughs and proved very useful in guiding our English speech. And for a native's opinion, I was lucky to have Lindsey McKee playing my mother, Mrs. Eynsford-Hill, as a reliable resource.
Lindsey, originally from outside of London, has lived in the United States for 30 years - Kansas City, MO to be exact. But she has a unique and first-hand perspective on English life and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for this blog.
Would you believe Lindsey once asked Prince Charles out for a drink (pre-marriage, of course)? Without a doubt, Lindsey is a woman full of confidence, and I delighted in hearing this story. Lindsey attended the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, where she sang with the London Bach Choir presided over by Prince Charles. Following a rehearsal, His Majesty was conversing near a group of singers including Lindsey. After waiting patiently for her turn, Lindsey asked the Heir, "Would you fancy a drink with some of the girls after rehearsal?" With enchanted surprise he replied, "I would love to. No one ever asks me out for a drink! But unfortunately I have plans to see my ma." Lindsey reiterates to me, "He meant mummy - y'know, the Queen!" And he did not forget Lindsey, for at a subsequent rehearsal, Prince Charles scanned the crowd of a hundred singers until he spotted Lindsey. He called out, "There you are, I've been looking for you!" As luck would have it, Lindsey would later sing with the Bach Choir at his wedding.
When I was a sophomore in college, I traveled to London for spring break and took in as much theatre as I could stomach. I saw plays in the commercialized West End but became most intrigued by The National Theatre. Performances at the National are government subsidized and, after interacting with a few London locals, it became clear to me that theatre is a national pastime. Lindsey confirmed this saying, "England is two-thirds the size of the state of Georgia, but in every small town is at least one or two performance halls. England has a much higher concentration of theatre than in America."
In addition to theatre, another pastime in London is the Royal Ascot horse races, also an iconic scene in My Fair Lady. Upon visiting the official website for today's Ascot, I noticed a photo of a lady wearing a large brimmed hat, just like the Ascot ladies in My Fair Lady. On the website, the dress code for ladies reads, "Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10 cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat..." Gentlemen are "kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear a black or grey morning dress..." I was inspired to find out formal wear is still enforced in 2013. And Lindsey assured me her sister, still living in England, attends Ascot every year and has a closet full of large hats. Here is a photo of Lindsey McKee in her Ascot hat for Stages St. Louis' production of My Fair Lady: