By Design: Don Holder Lights My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

Tony Award-winning lighting designer Don Holder (Lion King; South Pacific) and Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific) have teamed up again for the current revival of My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center Theater, and they are both nominated again for this production, along with set designer Michael Yeargan and costume designer Catherine Zuber. My Fair Lady has a total of 10 Tony nods, including Best Revival Of A Musical. 

"My Fair Lady is an amazing play by Alan Jay Lerner (based on Shaw’s Pygmalion) that is graced with an incredible score by Frederick Lowe," notes Holder. "Our objective was to transport the audience to London in 1912, creating a poetic yet truthful vision of the two worlds that the musical (and Eliza Doolittle's journey) traverse: The opulence and elegance of Henry Higgins' house and environs; and the gritty underbelly of the streets of London. This approach allowed me to explore the light of the city and find ways to render it in a theatrical context. I was coincidentally working in London during the summer and fall prior to starting on My Fair Lady, and paid particular attention to light of the city, took the opportunity to walk through Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road in the very early mornings and late at night."

"This production has been approached with a realistic visual style that is intended to faithfully render the world that Shaw envisioned in Pygmalion," Holder continues. "I chose sources that could reference the color and quality of early electric light while also reveal the cool exteriors of central London. I also turned to the work of the 19th-century British artist JMW Turner and to John Piper, a British painter and theatre artist working during the time that Shaw wrote Pygmalion: both artists have rendered the world of London and its environs in ways that I felt really spoke to the heart of the piece. So the visual approach is more ‘period’ than contemporary, yet there’s a specificity and level of detail, and a crispness to the light that would be impossible to achieve without employing the most sophisticated technology available to us today."

Check out more coverage on the designs of the 2018 Tony Award nominees.

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