"The science of speech. That’s my profession. . . . I can place any man within six miles.” That’s Henry Higgins, in Act I of “Pygmalion,” about to transform a lowly flower girl into a proper Edwardian lady. If you are a Manhattan-born starlet making your Broadway début as said flower girl, he is precisely the sort of man you don’t want in your audience. In a play about upwardly mobile speech, the accents have to be right: you don’t want to wind up sounding like Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins.” And so a real-life Higgins is called for, in this case—the Roundabout’s revival of “Pygmalion,” soon to open at the American Airlines Theatre—Majella Hurley, an English dialect coach who was brought in to help Claire Danes, as Eliza Doolittle, perfect her “not bloody likely”s and “How do you doooo?”s.
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