A sot and a philosopher: NJ man's 'My Fair Lady' journey comes home
During a break in the "Fiddler on the Roof" national tour, Michael Hegarty visited a friend backstage at the Broadway revival of "My Fair Lady" at Lincoln Center. He crossed paths with director Bartlett Sher during the visit.
"I had no idea where I would be all these years later," he said − playing Alfred P. Doolittle in the national tour of Sher's "My Fair Lady."
Hegarty is originally from Old Bridge and now lives in Freehold. He has performed and directed extensively with theater groups in the area, including at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank and with Phoenix Productions, dating back to 1989.
He's excited to make a hometown visit as "My Fair Lady" hits the State Theatre in New Brunswick, where he's seen many shows, but this is the first time performing on its stage. It plays four performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. For tickets, $40 to $98, and more information, visit stnj.org.
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When you think of Alfred P. Doolittle, a lot of words may come to mind, but for Hegarty, chief among them is philosopher.
"He likes to espouse his philosophy to anyone who will listen, his drinking buddies, whatever. And he's a bit of a countercultural kind of guy," he said. "He really goes against the norms, he's not a big fan of marriage. He is always railing against what he calls 'middle class morality.' And basically, what he means by that is, the more money you have, the more headaches you have, the more people you have to worry about and the more responsibility you have. So anytime he gets money, he wants to spend it immediately."
And some of those spending binges lead to the musical's most frenzied moments.
"He's not shy. I get to be very, very uninhibited a lot of ways and he's bigger than life, which makes those moments, they're few but there are moments, where he really shows some humanity and shows some vulnerability," said Hegarty. "There's a particular moment in Act 2 when (Eliza's) basically saying goodbye to him. And it's a brief little moment. It's just a look, it's just a realization when he realizes that I lost her. ... And then he's quickly swept right away into a full on bachelor party. So it is fun playing those extremes and going from being quiet one minute to exploding."
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And what is it like to be in the middle of that explosions on stage?
"A lot of times I'm being pulled back and forth around the stage. And so it really is a surreal kind of number that the whole number is directed toward me," he said. "And so I definitely get that feeling when I work on the number that everybody's coming at me and pulling me and grabbing me and doing things to me. It's all directed to me. So that's definitely a whirlwind kind of feeling."
"He's a lot of fun to play. He's quite verbose. He talks a lot. And he's very opinionated. And he definitely, to his credit, I think he is a man of his word. And he lives by his philosophy and he sticks to it. He really believes in this stuff, that's a lot of fun," Hegarty said.
'My Fair Lady'
Lincoln Center Theater's production of Lerner & Loewe’s "My Fair Lady" won five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards.
The touring production also features Madeline Powell as Eliza Doolittle, Jonathan Grunert as Professor Henry Higgins, John Adkison as Colonel Pickering, Madeline Brennan as Mrs. Pearce, Cameron Loyal as Freddy Eynsford-Hill and Becky Saunders as Mrs. Higgins.
The ensemble features Ashley Agrusa, Anna Backer, Blair Beasley, Nick Berke, Sophie Braud, Timothy Scott Brausch, Daniel James Canaday, William Warren Carver, Richard Coleman, Diana Craig, Andrew Fehrenbacher, Allyson Gishi, Sam Griffin, Zoey Lytle, Jesse McFarland, Mark Mitrano, Maeghin Mueller, Sami Murphy, Torinae, Kevin D. O’Neil and Cullen J. Zeno.
State Theatre's Broadway Series
Coming up in the State Theatre's Broadway series this season are: "Menopause The Musical" on Feb. 2; "R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: A Celebration of the Music of Aretha Franklin" on March 11 and 12; "Patti LuPone: Don't Monkey With Broadway" on March 25; "Legally Blonde: The Musical" from April 28 to 30 and "Jesus Christ Superstar" from June 9 to 11. Visit stnj.org for tickets and more information.
Ilana Keller is an award-winning journalist and lifelong New Jersey resident who loves Broadway and really bad puns. Reach out on Twitter: @ilanakeller; firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: 'My Fair Lady' national tour comes to NJ with a local star