One performance. In Columbus, Ohio. They'd been on tour since December 2019 but reached the tipping point once they got to Columbus. That's what Leslie Alexander and the rest of the traveling production of Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady got out of the way before COVID-19 shut theaters down on Broadway and across America.
But next Tuesday, Alexander and company will restart their tour at Houston's Hobby Center, dancing, enunciating clearly and singing "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and "Why Can't The English?" (along with several others) in the story of a young woman transformed by phonetics. Well and a lot of hard work.
Alexander (Broadway: The Boy From Oz - with Hugh Jackman, Mamma Mia! - North American Tour) plays Mrs. Higgins, the mother of Professor Henry Higgins who conducts an experiment to see if — with proper training — he can take a poor, uneducated, woman and mold her into someone who could glide easily into high society.
The show's enduring attraction lies in its premise that someone with enough desire can overcome difficulties, Alexander said. Adding to the interest is that this Lincoln Center Theater version has a different ending than the movie with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
She describes her character as being a loving but pragmatic sort. "She loves her son very much but she’s very grounded and she sees some of Henry’s follies."
Addressing the elephant in the theater, Alexander says everyone in their company has had to be vaccinated. They will also be tested weekly and are wearing masks during rehearsals when not singing or speaking. Onstage during actual performances the actors won't be masked but if anyone is offstage for a while, the mask will go back on, she says.
The New York City-based actor says it's pretty normal to wear masks in NYC in elevators and on transit. She wears them in stores as well, so the requirement to wear them in rehearsal just seems prudent to her.
Alexander says she grew up always singing and when an older brother got involved in acting and musicals she got hooked herself. She grew up in Brownfield near Lubbock and went to Texas Tech for her undergrad degree. For 14 years she was based in Dallas before moving to New York and in the '90s she was in three different Theatre Under the Stars productions.
My Fair Lady is the kind of show that can entertain people of all ages, she says. "It's visually stunning. Everyone in the company is fantastic and wonderfully talented. I'm s proud to be a part of it. It’s an extremely high quality production.
"it’s going to make people realize we’re coming back."
Performances are scheduled for September 14-19 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For more information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org or broadwayatthehobbycenter.com. $35-$125.
The Hobby Center policy for ticket buyers states: "COVID-19 related health protocols may be in effect at the time of performance, including, without limitation, masks or face covering required, temperature checks, testing, confirmation of prior travel to restricted areas and/or confirmation of no known symptoms of and exposure to COVID-19. We reserve the right to unilaterally make changes to health protocols according to updated public health guidance and applicable law. Any future updates will be provided to ticket holders prior to the performance. Any ticket holder who does not comply with any COVID-19 related health protocol may be required to leave the theater, and the patron's ticket will not be refunded."