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No shrinking violet, a rough-around-the-edges Eliza boldly enters Henry Higgins’ study for speech lessons in order to lift herself from her life as a lowly flower seller in the London streets. “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?” But she ends up the subject of a bet between Higgins and Pickering, in which Higgins claims that Eliza, by the power of polished speech, will be able to pass for high class. Can she persevere through Higgins’ harshness and make her own transformation?
“Ordinary Man” and confirmed bachelor Professor Henry Higgins, an expert in the study of speech, has little love or patience for anyone. When Eliza knocks on his door, he seizes an opportunity to display his prowess and the power of language, vowing to transform her into a duchess in a few weeks’ time and present her at the Embassy Ball. All the while chiding and insulting Eliza, despite himself Higgins admits, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
Colonel Pickering travels from India, where he studies language, to meet the expert Professor Higgins. They instantly strike up a friendship as well as the bet that turns Eliza into a pet project. Pickering may go along with the experiment but, ever the gentleman, he tries to protect Eliza along the way. Pickering’s respect for Eliza is unwavering despite their differences.
Head Housekeeper for Higgins, Mrs. Pearce runs a tight ship and isn’t sure what to make of all this fuss over Eliza. One thing she does know: none of this seems very fair to the young woman they’ve taken in. But as the Embassy Ball approaches and stakes get higher, the household help gets wrapped up in the excitement.
Freddy becomes smitten with Eliza when her untamed ways attract attention at the Ascot Races. Her peculiarities gleam in vivid contrast to the rigid high class society he belongs to — a refreshing change. Freddy’s love for Eliza keeps him languishing outside her door, singing about all the beauty he now sees in “The Street Where You Live”.
Alfred has never been much of a father to Eliza; he’s more apt to get into trouble with his pals Harry and Jamie. Alfred is always on the lookout for “A Little Bit of Luck” and never misses an opportunity to take advantage, so when he learns his daughter has come into the care of the well-to-do Higgins, he thinks he’s found a way to get something out of it for himself.
“Every Duke and Earl and peer is here, everyone who should be here is here” at the Ascot horse races for some high-falutin fun. Here, Eliza makes a trial run to see if she can fool the discerning members of high society into believing she belongs among the stylish, elegant, and restrained. But things don’t go quite according to plan, and Eliza’s rowdier roots get the best of her.
Just as high society heads home from the evening’s entertainment, the hardworking street vendors can be found in Covent Garden before the crack of dawn, setting up produce and wares to sell at market. They join Eliza in her “Loverly” dream of a warmer, more comfortable life away from the damp and dreary streets of London.