"An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him." - Henry
George Bernard Shawfamously refused to permit any play of his "to be degraded into an operetta or set to any music except its own." Allowing his beloved Pygmalion to be supplanted by a comic opera was therefore unthinkable; yet Lerner and Loewe transformed it into My Fair Lady (1956), a musical that was to delight audiences and critics alike. By famously reversing Shaw’s original ending, the show even dared to establish a cunningly romantic ending.
Keith Garebian delves into the libretto for a fresh take, and explores biographies of the show’s principal artists to discover how their roles intersected with real life.
Rex Harrison was an alpha male onstage and off, Julie Andrews struggled with her ‘chaste diva’ image, and the direction of the sexually ambiguous Moss Hartcontributed to the musical’s sexual coding.
"A distillation of years of the author's intimate knowledge about this and other musicals. His love for his subject and his impeccable prose make reading it a delight."
- Jeffrey Round, Unvailed
"Keith Garebian has neatly combined queer theory, biography, and his own special brand of accessible, engaging writing that adds a unique perspective to the presence of a great play that became a great musical."
- Bateman Reviews
Preface 1. Rex Harrison: Alpha Male 2. Julie Andrews: Chaste Vocal Diva 3. Moss Hart: Sexually Ambiguous Dazzler 4. "Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?" 5. Queer Meanings Conclusion Bibliography
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.