PLAQUE TO BE UNVEILED
CELEBRATING THE CENTENARY OF THE BIRTH
OF LEGENDARY PLAYWRIGHT AND LYRICIST
ALAN JAY LERNER
AT THE THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE
ON FRIDAY 31 AUGUST 2018 AT 2.30PM
On Friday 31 August 2018 at 2.30pm a plaque will be unveiled at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the legendary playwright and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner.
As well as the unveiling, excerpts from ‘The Songwriters’ DVD will be shown and Dominic McHugh will be signing copies of his latest book ‘The Complete Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner’.
Liz Robertson said today “Alan Jay Lerner was one of the greatest lyricists to have written for Broadway he was also my husband and for one brief shining moment I was a witness to the struggles and torment that came with writing that perfect lyric. Alan confessed at one time, ‘It is rather pleasant to know that if your songs are being played and sung when you are not around, it is difficult for people to forget you’. On the centenary of his birth we remember him well”.
Alan Jay Lerner was born on 31 August 1918 in New York City and was educated at Bedales, Choate and Harvard where he wrote the Hasty Pudding Shows and collaborated with his classmate Leonard Bernstein on ‘The Lonely Men Of Harvard’ a tongue in cheek salute to their alma mater.
While boxing at Harvard he lost the retina of his left eye so was unable to fight in WW2. Instead he wrote radio scripts. Then in 1942 he met Frederick Loewe who was looking for a lyricist to collaborate with, at the Lambs Club. After a couple of stumbles in 1947 they wrote Brigadoon which went on to win The New York Drama Critics award for Best Musical. Alan wrote ‘Love Life’ with Kurt Weil and the films ‘Royal Wedding’ with Burton Lane and ‘An American in Paris’ for which he won his first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In1956 he and Frederick Loewe wrote their biggest hit ‘My Fair Lady.’ It set box office records on both Broadway and the West End and won numerous awards for the creatives and actors alike.
The film Gigi followed earning 9 Oscars including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song.
Camelot opened to mix reviews in 1960 but after Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet performed excerpts on the Ed Sullivan Show the box office took off. Camelot later became synonymous with the 1000 days of John F. Kennedy’s (another classmate of Alan’s at Harvard) reign in the White House.
Alan continued to write with Burton Lane ‘On A Clear Day’ and ‘Carmelina’, Andre Previn ‘Coco, John Barry ‘Lolita’, Leonard Bernstein ‘1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’, Charles Strouse ‘Dance A Little Closer’ and Gerard Kenny ‘My Man Godfrey’. His last collaboration was with Andrew Lloyd Webber on ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Sadly, Alan became ill hardly having put pen to paper and died on June 14th 1986 of lung cancer.
Alan Jay Lerner is recognised as one of the greatest lyricists ever to have graced Broadway, his shows are performed constantly throughout the world and right now My Fair Lady is playing to sell out audiences in New York.