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Loverly: The Life And Times Of My Fair Lady (Broadway Legacies) Paperback – 1 May 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199381003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199381005
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 2.3 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,386,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Dominic McHugh is probably the world's leading expert on Alan Jay Lerner. My Fair Lady is indisputably one of the greatest musicals of all time. I enthusiastically endorse Dominic's study of Lerner and Loewe's masterpiece. (Tim Rice)

About the Author

Dominic McHugh is Lecturer in Music at The University of Sheffield.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is compelling. Dominic McHugh delves into all aspects of "My Fair Lady" leaving no stone unturned, and allowing readers to get a comprehensive look at the factors that shaped the musical we all love. Buy it now!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x963d73f0) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968a157c) out of 5 stars Absobloomin'lutely brill ! 11 July 2012
By Damien Slattery - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The level of detail covered in this glorious document is nothing short of breathtaking! Dominic McHugh approaches the many aspects of MY FAIR LADY with the eye of an academic, presenting pages full of intelligent observation and detailed studies of the text, the score and the creation of this American musical classic.

Unusually, the author tackles the songs that were cut from the production just as extensively as the classic hits from the show that we know today. He digs deeply into the varied letters of correspondance from the collaborators, and reveals a truer version of the creative decisions and birthpangs than lyricist/bookwriter Alan Lerner had imparted in his official accounts.
There are studies of G.B. Shaw's PYGMALION, noting its comparative differences with MY FAIR LADY, the ambiguity of the romantic elements of MY FAIR LADY, and the conflicting memories of the performers in the original production. McHugh also delves into the various revivals and revisionist productions since 1956, and notes the changing concepts that still makes this astounding musical the classic that it is. The one reservation I might have is the lack of photographs from the various productions of MY FAIR LADY, as the b&w ones presented are scant, and are only from the original production.

This is a wonderfully readable publication (musical notation is kept to a minimum), and having read just about all of the other books relating to the musical masterwork (including the great Keith Garebian book) I can easily say that this is just as rewarding.

Making of My Fair Lady
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968a15d0) out of 5 stars By George, McHugh's done it! 12 July 2012
By Van C. Gessel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have studied "My Fair Lady" for well over 40 years, but McHugh's book has managed to open up incredible new vistas for me. He has delved with a scholar's precision and thoroughness into archival material, autograph manuscripts, and private sources to present as complete and compelling a picture of the creation of this musical masterpiece as we can ever hope to have.

McHugh adds to this treasure trove of material a deft and enlightening analysis of many of the critical aspects of the show: the music, the lyrics in their various stages, the personnel interactions and issues, the overall achievements of the musical. More than any other source I have examined, McHugh has helped to bring Fritz Loewe out of the shadows--where it was too easy to view him as a passive collaborator--and identify him as a fully involved musical genius. Perhaps most impressive of McHugh's contributions here, however, is the manner in which he so carefully and persuasively demonstrates the originality and creativity of "Fair Lady', taking it beyond the standard critique as a mere "expansion" of "Pygmalion" and viewing it as the extraordinarily original and creative work of musical theatre that it is. He has also provided a necessary corrective to Lerner's highly...er..."inventive" recollections of his own life and career! It has always fascinated me that he was so sublime on the micro level of writing the most intricate and thoughtful and moving of lyrics, yet at the same time so undisciplined at the macro level, especially in his personal life, but also, I think, in some of his work.

Anyone with an interest in the musical theatre--most especially the musical theatre at its zenith, with "My Fair Lady" as its greatest example of achievement--should find this book informative, fascinating, and endlessly revealing. It is also an outstanding look at the creative squabbles, struggles, compromises, revisions, and ultimate genius of the men and women who worked together to produce this masterpiece of the theatre. I recommend this book with great enthusiasm. And as for McHugh: "He did it!"
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x965c3fe4) out of 5 stars Essential Details on the Greatest Musical 5 Jan. 2013
By Rob Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
_My Fair Lady_ is perhaps the grandest musical that ever came from Broadway. It emerged from the romantic tradition of American musicals, but it is a distinctively different romance. The two main characters are not only not lovers, they do not kiss or embrace. The ambiguity of their relationship is what makes the show a success; that's one of the lessons in _Loverly: The Life and Times of My Fair Lady_ (Oxford University Press) by Dominic McHugh who lectures at the University of Sheffield. He also obviously loves the musical; he seems to have looked at every letter and memo regarding its inception, and if there is any trace of a discarded lyric, he has evaluated all its implications. The detail is at times overwhelming, but a show this beloved deserves it. Among the other lessons here is how astonishingly much work had to go into getting the show produced, and how close it came to not happening at all. Those who love _My Fair Lady_ will value it anew for this, and for the wealth of history brought by this, the first comprehensive account of the musical's origin.

Shaw fought off any attempts to make a musical of his play _Pygmalion_, which in turn was based on the myth from Ovid. It was only his death in 1950 that allowed his estate to make such decisions. Many had seen the musical potential of the play, but turning it into a musical proved too difficult for Rodgers and Hammerstein, who gave up on the task. The lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and the composer Frederick Loewe also gave up on in it 1952, but went back two years later. It was difficult to get a cast together all at one time, and even when rehearsals were underway, there was still a great deal of editing to do. McHugh has meticulously examined whatever remains of the cast-off portions, though, and finds more to the cuts than just standard editing. Lowe, after huge amounts of work, was fearless in cutting out chunks of that work (or recycling it to other later musicals). In an effort that would defy the commonsense idea of what a musical was about, the overtly romantic songs and lyrics were snipped or toned down. For all their circling of each other in the musical, by turns provoked or entranced, Higgins and Eliza do not fall in love. "Lerner and Lowe," writes McHugh, "resolve the characters' ongoing battle without defining their relationship any more explicitly than it has been earlier in the show." The famous last line, "Eliza? Where the devil are my slippers?" confirms that Eliza and Higgins have cemented a prickly friendship, and the audiences go out happy with the idea that the friendship will continue. In a traditional musical, nothing but love and marriage would have resulted, but here is instead "the perfect ambiguous conclusion: the `serenely independent' Higgins cannot love Eliza but is happy to admit that he has grown accustomed to her face."

McHugh goes heavily on the musicology, and these sections of the book will baffle most readers. (It certainly does not take being a musicologist to enjoy the show or the book; it was seldom when reading these pages that the music was not playing in my head.) There is also scads of folklore about the musical and its first production that McHugh does not include; this is not a light anecdotal read. _My Fair Lady_, however, merits the careful attention, and will make any fan of the musical happy for new reasons to love it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968a1858) out of 5 stars LOVERLY BOOK 21 Dec. 2014
By catsnharps - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of "My Fair Lady", especially the original with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, you'll enjoy this book. It's full of interesting stories and examples of how the tunes and lyrics evolved.
HASH(0x968a1690) out of 5 stars Words, words, words! 11 Sept. 2015
By Steve Maas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Credit Mr. McHugh for doing an enormous amount of research, but unless you are a musicologist you'll find yourself plowing through far more than you want to know about the many iterations of the score and cast of the musical. Ironically, Mr. McHugh praises the creators for sacrficing songs and dances because they slowed the show and/or clashed with its spirit. If only the author had similarly pruned his book -- or put it in the hands of an aggressive editor. Particularly in his jargon-filled analysis of the songs, Mr. McHugh seems to be writing for fellow scholars rather than the general reader. At times, you feel like shouting: Write more with your heart and less with your head.
All that said, Mr. McHugh does illuminate the key, but subtle, decisions that elevated "My Fair Lady" from being good enough to hard to beat. And he sprinkles the book with enough surprising anecdotes to keep you reading right to the end.
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