Directed by Moss Hart, the musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 15, 1956. The cast starred Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins and also featured Stanley Holloway as Alfred P. Doolittle, Cathleen Nesbitt as Mrs. Higgins and Robert Coote as Colonel Pickering.
The show was an instant success and fared well with audiences and critics alike. New York Times theatre critic Brooks Atkinson praised the "glorious" production and claimed Andrews and Harrison acted their parts "triumphantly." He wrote: "It's a wonderful show. To Shaw's agile intelligence it adds the warmth, loveliness and excitement of a memorable theatre frolic."
The production was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won six, including the top prize of Best Musical. It went on to play 2,717 performances, making it the longest-running Broadway musical until 1964's Hello, Dolly!