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INTO THE NIGHT / BILL HIGGINS

Awash in Both Flowers and Memories

July 09, 1993|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: Wednesday's opening night for "My Fair Lady" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This veritable tsunami of musical nostalgia washes over the Music Center until July 18. "You get a little choked up when you hear the songs," said Charlotte Rae. "It's been 40 years and the music still hits home."

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The Setting: The after-party was in a roped off flower-bedecked area on the Music Center's plaza. Perhaps the best description came from the passing tourist who asked, "Is this a wedding reception or something?"

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Who Was There: The show's stars, Richard Chamberlain and Meg Tolin; co-stars Julian Holloway and Paxton Whitehead; producers Barry and Fran Weissler; plus 350 guests (of the more than 3,000 at the show), including Estelle Getty, Dick Sargent, Gary Coleman, Bonnie Franklin, Mr. Blackwell, Juliet Prowse and, from the Music Center's board, Andrea Van de Kamp, Sandra Kimberling, Shel Ausman and Roy Ash. Almost everyone took a turn at complimenting Chamberlain, who basked in the attention. "Anybody who says they like it," said the actor. "I'm perfectly willing to believe."

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Pastimes: Awakening old memories. There were people who remembered when the musical opened in New York in 1956. There were those who remembered Chamberlain as Dr. Kildare in 1961. There was probably someone who sat next to George Bernard Shaw when "Pygmalion" opened in 1912.

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Quoted: Chamberlain on being compared to Rex Harrison: "The only way you can do this is to treat it like a brand new show and do it your own way. So far people have been satisfied. I certainly haven't tried to copy him in any way."

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Historical Note: Years ago, there had been a fear that Music Center theater would eventually boil down to road-show Broadway musicals. There was even that famous piece of graffiti on a nearby wall that said, "The Lord saves from Hell" which some wit revised to "The Lord saves from 'Hello Dolly' revivals."

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