by Rebecca Eichenberger
My Fair Lady is my 4th show at Lincoln Center Theater. When I walked into my audition last November, I saw the smiling familiar face of Ira Weitzman, director of musical theater at LCT. Ira and I had met exactly 24 years ago during the casting of Nicholas Hytner’s Carousel.
For my Carousel callback I was told “come back, but don’t wear that dress." I learned later that every girl in New York was auditioning in some form of the same dress and Nick hated it. He just wanted real people from a mill town in Maine. They did not yet have a cover for Shirley Verrett and Ira Weitzman remembered I had a nice voice. So I arrived in jeans and a T-shirt (with a baby stroller outside, LCT is very family friendly!) and sang "You’ll Never Walk Alone" and got the job. That was one of the most stunning productions of Carousel anywhere, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. I had to leave early because I was pregnant with my second child, but went on play Nettie in the National Tour a year later with Sarah Uriarte and Patrick Wilson. (26 cities with two kids in diapers... that’s a whole other blog!)
I returned to LCT in 2004 and 2005 to do The Frogs at the Beaumont and Dessa Rose at the Newhouse. Anyone who has worked here can tell you it’s the creme de la creme. It has the familial feel of a LORT and not-for-profit theater, while maintaining the highest standards of Broadway professionalism.
To be returning in My Fair Lady is truly a reflective, full circle moment for me. I actually had the same moment returning to Phantom in a third role in 2016 and Encores! for the third time in 2017. “Once per decade!” I like to say.
The memories here at Lincoln Center encompass my life as a mother as well a professional.
I remember seeing my baby boy learning to walk in these halls, and now he is 25! I remember making a prank phone call to Madonna with Audra and Lovette George in Sally Murphy’s dressing room. (We laughed about that the other day: Sally played Julie Jordan and is currently in Admissions downstairs in the Newhouse.)
I remember Sondheim coming to my dressing room in The Frogs to wish Kathy Voytko and me a happy opening, I remember performing two shows of Dessa Rose on the day my mother died, because I felt helpless and didn’t know what else to do. The opening line of the show is “We are descended from a long strong line of women." That was therapeutic.
Longevity in this business is a gift. I am proud of my career and that I am still someone who can add value and experience to a show. My 34th year in AEA and I ain’t done yet!