Laura Benanti to replace Lauren Ambrose in MY FAIR LADY

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laurensambrose
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Super excited I'll be seeing her in May! 

AllThatJazz2
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So glad to see sheís extended. My friend and I bought tickets for March in order to catch Danny and were hoping Laura would extend.
JoshTodos
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Ambrose was really really hatted for no reason in this show. She sounded great.

kellysruby
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LesWickedly said: "I’m sure it’s been discussed in this thread but can you return your ticket for a refund if Laura is out? I know she’s not above the title but wonder if exceptions are made. I might make a return trip for her in the Summer but would only be going for her as I wasn’t the hugest fan of the show."

You can get your money back. I bought tickets after noon on Super Bowl Sunday for that afternoon. There was no notice that Benanti would be out. I picked up my ticket at will-call, again with no indication she wouldn't be there. I went in, sat down and opened the playbill to a cascade of paper announcing all the replacements for the performance. The smallest revealed that Benanti would not be on.

I went to the box office, where there was still no notice visible that she wouldn't be appearing. They said that they had found out only 45 minutes prior. 

There were a lot of irritated ticket holders. At that point, exchanges were hard for people because it was assumed Benanti would be ending her run shortly. But both refunds and exchanges were made without any trouble.

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RippedMan
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Has she ever done a full 8?
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OlBlueEyes
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As a non-theater person, not really my position to possibly criticize, but, what the hell, I really did want this show to succeed. My mother pounded the OBC album into my post-toddler pre-teen head and I just loved Julie Andrews singing "Show Me" more than even the bigger songs.

I don't think that this show is going to make it to July. Despite her national TV exposure, Laura has not been a draw. Doing under 90 percent with average ticket price down to $115 instead of the $150+ for many months. The two stars taking different days of the week off, Tuesday and Wednesday, might have seemed like a good idea, but it hurts both nights. Any ideas? Older crowd shut in during the winter and prefers weekend matinees. Make Thursday a matinee?

It appears that Laura is taking the role that she wanted to play her whole life and making it subordinate to appearing in "Younger" on TV with Sutton Foster. Might not the rest of the cast think that Laura is being given a whole lot of flexibility to pick the days she will appear and not appear? She hasn't really earned that right?

Perhaps I'm wrong to focus on the older audience that can't get here. It may be the younger audience that doesn't find this old musical appealing, or doesn't think that they will if they see it. Probably few of the younger women who have seen and seen and seen Wicked have every read Shaw.

I wonder if Emma Stone is available. Oh, I guess she doesn't have the voice to handle this score.

How about Reese?!? 

bear88
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Practical question: As I'm most likely going in May with my wife and one of my daughters, is this something that I should get in advance at full price, or are there bargains (TKTS et cetera) to be had if I wait? I would probably be going on a Saturday night or the Sunday matinee.

Yes, I know the musical isn't selling all that well now ($115 average ticket price) and it will face competition from all the new shows opening this spring. So it seems like I ought to be able to get a bargain. But I'm just wondering if that dynamic changes at all on a May weekend.

Updated On: 2/12/19 at 02:24 AM
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NYadgal
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Agree with all of your thoughts and observations, OlBlueEyes.  Agree completely.

 

"Two drifters off to see the world. There's such a lot of world to see. . ."
theminutepast
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Excited that Benanti is extending. I just bought two LincTix for June. I missed out on these when Ambrose was in, paid full price, and loved her and the show. I'm just glad I pounced on them quickly enough, but now coming here, it sounds like the demand has gone down. 

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OlBlueEyes
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Thank you, NYadgal

I think that I might be in need of some support.

I may have been too hard on Laura. Quite possibly everyone knew in advance of her TV commitment and that is why her role initially was to end this month. Bart and the gang liked her enough to accommodate what will be a pretty crazy schedule for a few weeks.

So Kiss Me Kate on the away. Seemed to me like a rather odd choice for Kelli, given that she had been saying that she would only appear in shows which would "start a conversation" about an important subject. But Kelli is in her prime years now and only improves shows that she is in.

Danielle49
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Got an email from LincTix ó if you have already used your LincTix for the show, you can now see it another time at that price point. Not sure if this was already in place, but for anyone who didnít know (like me), you can see the show again for $32. Picked up a ticket for March. Itís been almost a year since I saw the show, and Iím stoked to finally see Benanti in the role!
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When in March is Laura going to be out? I have tickets for the March 27th evening show. It wouldnít be the end of the world if she was out, but she was a major draw for me. It also seems like Harry Haden Patton will be out, but Iíve heard both understudies are great.
??Jack-o-lanterns are just pumpkins who majored in musical theatre??
Danielle49
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Call_me_jorge said: "When in March is Laura going to be out? I have tickets for the March 27th evening show. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if she was out, but she was a major draw for me. It also seems like Harry Haden Patton will be out, but I’ve heard both understudies are great."

Via Telecharge, it looks like she’ll be out March 24th-28th amongst other dates

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There was some excitement last night during My Fair Lady. Anyone there who can elaborate? Sounds like it was either Huggins or Pickering who was injured.

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poisonivy2
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So I just returned from my seeing MFL with my mom this afternoon. All the principals were on, and my mom is usually very enthusiastic. Indeed she loved Henry Hadden-Patton and Danny Burstein, REALLY loved Christian Dante White, and she really also liked the ending. She said it "made more sense" because "Eliza could never be happy with Higgins." Keep in mind she's very old fashioned and was mildly bothered by the drag dancers in "Get Me to the Church."

However, she was completely disappointed with Laura Benanti's Eliza, My mom disliked Benanti's voice and also said she was charmless.

I have to say I agree with her.For someone who has said Eliza was her dream role, I thought Benanti gave a cold, hard, brittle performance. There was no freshness or innocence to her Eliza -- from the moment she walked onstage with her flower basket she seemed calculating and so confident. Thus there was no growth -- the woman who marched out of Higgins' study at the end was the same woman who sold flowers in the beginning of the musical. There was never any doubt that she would be able to pass herself off as a lady -- her strong, steely body language and crisp vocal inflections as she spoke made her Eliza seem like a mature woman of the world rather than a "squashed cabbage leaf." 

Vocally I thought she was either having a bad day or the role lies too high for her because she struggled with the high notes throughout the afternoon. They sounded shrill and disconnected from the rest of her voice. Her accent was all over the place -- an Irish brogue, Melania Trump, International Accent, Scottish accent, I think I heard them all. There was no chemistry between her and the other characters. When she says goodbye to her father before he gets married, she sounded like a human resources manager wishing someone who has just been let go "good luck." No sadness that money couldn't buy her dad any class or paternal feeling. 

The ending REALLY changed with Benanti compared to Ambrose. With Ambrose there was a lot of sadness as she touched Higgins' cheek, held his hand, and left his study. It was the right decision, but you felt her pain and thus Higgins' pain as well. Benanti again had such a cold body language as she left that the bond between her and Higgins seemed completely transactional. He got what he wanted (sort of), she got what she wanted, and that was that.

I also thought that for being a known comedienne she wasn't that funny. She was funny, but there were lines where a fresher, more wide-eyed approach would have been way funnier than the smirk she used to signal to the audience "laugh here." 

Overall I was very disappointed in her performance. I really expected way more.

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OlBlueEyes
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Wow, poisonivy. Are you ready to duck? You seem to have some qualifications to judge a performance, but you completely undressed Laura. Even I got it when I heard Laura sing the score remembering how people had said "advantage, Laura." (But I take it that a musical performer's performance can really vary from day to day. Idina Menzel in a interview when asked about appearing in a straight play rather than a musical said that now every morning when she woke up she didn't have to do a voice check to see how much of her voice she had that day.) There were the two rave reviews in the Times and New Yorker I think.

But I'd rather switch to a more specific question. To me there is no question that Laura performed the role of Eliza the least like it had been drawn by Shaw and performed by Wendy Hiller and Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn. They were lacking in self-confidence, afraid of the "officer" who was taking down her words, responding to Higgins, "Who'd marry me?" Laura's Eliza knows that she is as good as any other if given the chance. Laura's choice to come out brawling can be seen as a different and welcome change in the character. 

My question is, is it all right for Laura to reinterpret the role to suit herself? Is it not the role of the director to determine how the role should be played, and so instruct the actress until she gets it right?

A quick example. I was smitten by Kelli O'Hara the first time that I saw her in South Pacific. I followed her around, which took me to Lincoln Center to see the one night concert performance of Carousel. Watching her in the bench scene, live and on the later DVD issued, she didn't seem right for the part of Julie Jordan. Julie was a timid little waif. Kelli's body language, intense gaze from penetrating eyes, diction too good for a barely educated young lady -- these all conflicted with the real, timid Julie.

Knowing that Kelli is a very good actress, I wondered if she could have transformed herself into a poor guttersnipe if given a couple of weeks. That question still stands open.

Could Laura transform herself into Shaw's Eliza if the director wanted her to do it? What was Sher's opinion? I believe that he was in London when the snap decision on Laura playing the role was made. Wasn't that his task in directing the play: to determine whom he thought was really Liza and to audition actresses whom he felt able to play the role, in exchange for a nice salary? Is it common for a director to determine how he wants one of the pivotal characters to be portrayed, but change that image in his mind to accommodate another actress who didn't have the time or the directorial assistance to learn the part as the original actress had played it.

I respect Laura in the role. I preferred Lauren. Anyone who knew me would be able to predict that since I'm a rather hopeless romantic who likes to see the downtrodden Cinderella improbably become the Princess, even if not to live happily ever after. Laura was never downtrodden. The word that I used to describe Ambrose in the part was "endearing." That would not fit Laura.

 

Updated On: 2/17/19 at 01:04 AM
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poisonivy2
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OlBlueEyes said: "
But I'd rather switch to a more specific question. To me there is no question that Laura performed the role of Eliza the least like it had been drawn by Shaw and performed by Wendy Hiller and Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn. They were lacking in self-confidence, afraid of the "officer" who wastaking down her words, responding to Higgins, "Who'd marry me?" Laura's Eliza knows that she is as good as any other if given the chance. Laura's choice to come out brawling can be seen as a different and welcome change in the character.

My question is, is it all right for Laura to reinterpret the role to suit herself? Is it not the role of the director to determine how the role should be played, and so instruct the actress until she gets it right?
"

Different interpretations of the same material are part of the joy of live theater. However in my opinion different performances must all be effective. A sassier, more confident Eliza would have worked IMO if Laura had also made it clear that despite the sass and confidence Eliza was sorely lacking in education and social graces at the beginning of her journey. But that was not Laura. She walked around like the Queen of England, and part of it I think was that her Cockney accent was SO inconsistent that one was always aware of the artifice. Even Audrey Hepburn (a very princessy type of actress) IMO did a better job conveying Eliza's "squashed cabbage leaf" quality. One example: Higgins tells Eliza to stop "boo hooing." In every production I've seen Eliza is actually loudly "boo-hooing." So the humor comes from Higgins being a jerk but sort of right in that moment. Laura is making some tiny little whiny sounds, nothing that would prompt Higgins to start bellowing at her. 

One moment where Lauren (and previous Elizas'Laura Benanti to replace Lauren Ambrose in MY FAIR LADY traditional way of playing the role is simply funnier is the Ascot scene. Every Eliza I've ever seen plays Eliza as sort of airheaded in that scene. Lauren emphasized the exaggerated "h's" and slow enunciation. She can make proper vowels and looks pretty in a dress, but that's about it. She has a lot of work to do still. Laura glided onstage and spoke in a polished, smooth manner. Only her coarse story about her aunt gave her away. She didn't even scream "Come on Dover, move your bloomin' ass!" but rather sweetly recited that line. 

So in terms of interpretation, yes I think different actors can have different interpretations but there's a reason the ingenue approach to ELiza is the "orthodox" approach -- because it works, because it's funny, because it's touching. I'd feel the same way if, say, I saw a Hamilton who played Alexander Hamilton not as "young scrappy and hungry" but polished and aristocratic from the opening dialogue with Burr. I suppose they CAN do it that way, but the humor/tension/character arc will be significantly altered to play Hamilton that way. 

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OlBlueEyes
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Thanks for the info. Ascot scene is praised in every production of the show, but it was done to perfection here and Eliza's cautious plunge into "(H)ow do you do." was fine work.

So it's not really strange for the director to give a plum replacement role to an actress without auditioning her, although he knew she was a good actress? Since she was extended, Bart must like what she's doing. 

Perhaps only we two prefer timid Eliza to brash Eliza. But the show is far from sold out in the coming week.

Odd that there were about 200 Laura posts in the general thread on casting Eliza, and on this thread there were about 300 posts for Laura after she got the part, but since she started playing the part hardly anyone is discussing her.

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I am loving the different reviews and insights this thread has on both Lauren Ambrose and Laura Benanti. I enjoyed both of their performances immensely. Ambrose's Eliza is a performance I will cherish for the rest of my life. She was heartbreakingly beautiful, and her transformation from common flower girl to a fine lady was stunning. Benanti's Eliza is a little less nuanced, but still great. Her Ascot scene had me in stitches. Her transformation though, is not on the same level as Ambrose's, though, in my opinion. I will be seeing the show again with Laura Benatnti in a few weeks. I saw her first performance, so I am excited to see how she has evolved in the role over the last few months.

"Thereís nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
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I saw the show Friday evening.  I got 2nd row center loge with the broadwaybox discount.  I saw this production during it's 2nd week of previews.  At that time I thought it was a good production of a show I don't particularly care for.  There were times the show dragged.  I liked Lauren Ambrose and found her vulnerability completely believable.

I have to admit I liked the show immensely on Friday night.  The pacing was much better.  I preferred Danny Burstein over Leo Norbert Butz, and Christian Dante White to Jordan Donica.  I liked Laura Benanti's performace as well, but her accents were all over the place.  I'm not sure I got cockney at all at the beginning of the show. Overall, I found her to be absolutely delightful  I'm not sure what accent Christian's was, but it certainly didn't sound British.  It makes me wonder who they rehearsed with, and if Bartlett Sher rehearsed with either of them at all.

That being said, I felt that Laura found the comedy that Lauren was lacking at times. She already looked stunning after getting cleaned up at Professor Higgin's house.  Not only did I buy that Christian's Freddy was amused by Eliza, I felt like he was actually smitten with her.  That is something I didn't get from Jordan's performance.  Don't get me started on his rendition of On the Street Where You Live!!!  His singing is absolutely gorgeous.  His voice gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes simultaneously.  It was so nice to hear the audience cheer after he finished singing.  Christian was another reason why I wanted to see My Fair Lady again, as I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! last year.

Upon entering the theatre that evening, there was a large high school contingent in the last two rows of the loge.  I immediately wondered what the evening would have in store and how would they behave.  Let me tell you, not a peep out of any of them during the show!!  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was also wonderful to hear 3 of the girls in the group discussing Eliza and Freddy as we were exiting the show.

I would definitely like to return and see Kersten Anderson as Eliza.

Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
Updated On: 2/18/19 at 09:05 AM
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poisonivy2
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So a more extended write-up of My Fair Lady, the biggest momsical fail of all:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2019/02/my-fair-ladys-new-cast-my-new-assignment.html

theaterlyfe19
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DottieD'Luscia said: "I saw the show Friday evening. I got 2nd row center loge with the broadwaybox discount. I saw this production during it's 2nd week of previews. At that time I thought it was a good production of a show I don't particularly care for. There were times the show dragged. I liked Lauren Ambrose and found her vulnerability completely believable.

I have to admit I liked the show immensely on Friday night. The pacing was much better. I preferred Danny Burstein over Leo Norbert Butz, and Christian Dante White to Jordan Donica. I liked Laura Benanti's performace as well, but her accents were all over the place. I'm not sure I got cockney at all at the beginning of the show. Overall, I found her to be absolutely delightful I'm not sure what accent Christian's was, but it certainly didn't sound British. It makes me wonder who they rehearsed with, and if Bartlett Sher rehearsed with either of them at all.

That being said, I felt that Laura found the comedy that Lauren was lacking at times. She already looked stunning after getting cleaned up at Professor Higgin's house. Not only did I buy that Christian's Freddy was amused by Eliza, I felt like he was actually smitten with her. That is something I didn't get from Jordan's performance. Don't get me started on his rendition ofOn the Street Where You Live!!! His singing is absolutely gorgeous. His voice gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes simultaneously. It was so nice to hear the audience cheer after he finished singing. Christian was another reason why I wanted to seeMy Fair Ladyagain, as I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!last year.

Upon entering the theatre that evening, there was a large high school contingent in the last two rows of the loge. I immediately wondered what the evening would have in store and how would they behave. Let me tell you, not a peep out of any of them during the show!! I was pleasantly surprised. It was also wonderful to hear 3 of the girls in the group discussing Eliza and Freddy as we were exiting the show.

I would definitely like to return and see Kersten Anderson as Eliza.
Kerstin is on as Eliza on tuesdays and she is absolutely amazing!! I was so impressed when I saw her performance. Coming off of playing Maria in the tour of The Sound of Music she certainly has the voice for this role and I think she’s amazing. 

 

spicemonkey
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Kerstin is on as Eliza on tuesdays and she is absolutely amazing!! I was so impressed when I saw her performance. Coming off of playing Maria in the tour of The Sound of Music she certainly has the voice for this role and I think she’s amazing.

Can't agree more. I've seen Keristin, Lauren and Laura so far. I have to say Kerstin is my favorite. She is way beyond my expectation. I was completely blown away when I saw her performance. 

 

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poisonivy2
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Would my mom have liked Kerstin Anderson more? My mom likes sweet, ingenue Elizas. Is Kerstin Anderson more along that vein?

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poisonivy2, I have to agree with so much of your review, except for Jordan Donica. I seem to be in the minority who really liked what Donica did with the role.