Interview with My Fair Lady star Harry Hadden-Paton

Harry Hadden-Paton

Making his New York stage debut as leading man Professor Henry Higgins in Lincoln Center Theater's acclaimed revival of My Fair Lady at Broadway's Vivian Beaumont Theater is British star Harry Hadden-Paton. To say his debut has been a success is quite the understatement, earning rave reviews from the critics, receiving a Theatre World Award and he is currently nominated in the category of "Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical" for both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards.

Perhaps best known to audiences on this side of the pond for his TV roles as Bertie Pelham on the hit British television series "Downton Abbey" and as Martin Charteris on Netflix's hit series "The Crown," Mr. Hadden-Paton has also enjoyed a rich career on the London stage, in both the West End and off-West End theatre scenes, with roles such as John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest (Vaudeville Theatre in 2008), Harry Villiers in Posh (Royal Court Theatre in 2010), Count Hohenzollern in The Prince of Homburg (Donmar Warehouse in 2010), Teddy Graham in Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2011), Michael Palin in No Naughty Bits (Hampstead Theatre in 2011), Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre in 2012), Alsemero in The Changeling (Young Vic in 2012), and Philip in The Pride (Trafalgar Studios in 2013).

We recently caught up with the Tony Award nominee to find out how his first taste of the New York theatre scene compares to his London stage outings, as well as gender equality and the revised ending of My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center Theater...

Harry Hadden-Paton in Interview
(Photo by Jane Smith)

How are you enjoying your time in New York so far, sir?

I’m doing very well, thank you. They do like their awards over here, don’t they?!

They do indeed! Have you grown accustomed to all the Awards Season hype yet?

(Laughs) No, no, no. It’s mad!

Now, you’ve been no stranger to the stage in London, but what have been some of the personal highlights of your New York stage debut so far?

The support over here is incredible. From the audience, firstly, the reception you get is more than anything I’ve experienced in London, but also the theatre – I mean, I’d never done a musical before, so I don’t know if this is normal – but the whole building is in support of this show in a way that I’ve never experienced. There’s a 30-piece orchestra. There are 37 people in the cast. It’s a huge machine and I’m a tiny cog in it. I’ve never felt that kind of collaboration in quite such a way. It’s an incredibly exciting place to be.

Harry Hadden-Paton & Lauren Ambrose in My Fair Lady
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

I love the fact that Lincoln Center Theater chose to cast your character of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle the same age. What is the significance of that for you?

Well, it meant I had a chance at getting the part (laughs)… I honestly didn’t think I had a chance. But I’m very glad they did. The significance is that we enter the space as equals, which is lovely especially in today’s day and age with all the conversations going on around gender equality at the moment. I think it’s really important. In this production, at least, I feel we leave them both as equals as well. I think that’s an important message and it’s creating lots of debate and the audience have lots to talk about afterwards.

My colleague and I were also debating the ending after seeing the show. What is your own take on the ending?

Well, I don’t want to spoil the ending in any way. I’m just saying that we need to leave them as equals. If you see the show, you’ll know what I mean.

Harry Hadden-Paton in My Fair Lady
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

And, on a completely different topic, are we likely to see any more action from the hallowed halls of “Downton Abbey” again? What’s the situation with Bertie Pelham?

Ah well there’s always chat, isn’t there. There is a film version, apparently, moving forward. But I’m still awaiting confirmation on that. But fingers crossed! It would be lovely to see those guys again!

Well, until then, sir. Keep enjoying your time in New York and keep up the fine work in My Fair Lady!

(Photo by Jane Smith)

My Fair Lady Tickets are available now for performances through to January 6, 2019.