So Long, Farewell to Julie Andrews June 8

News   So Long, Farewell to Julie Andrews June 8
Julie Andrews is scheduled to play her final performance in the title role(s) of Victor/Victoria Sunday June 8.

Julie Andrews is scheduled to play her final performance in the title role(s) of Victor/Victoria Sunday June 8.

Raquel Welch is promised to succeed Andrews June 10 as Victoria Grant, a starving singer who succeeds at passing as a man who is a drag artist, in order to work.

A special surprise has been prepared for Andrews' farewell, which Playbill On-Line has been asked not to divulge. Let's just say that, if all goes as planned, flowers will be involved in an unexpected -- but familiar -- way.

Andrews created the role in a musical film written and directed by her husband, Blake Edwards, who was director and librettist on the Broadway production, which opened in fall of 1995.

As she bids farewell Sunday, Broadway looks back on an actress whose stage career that included The Boy Friend, the original My Fair Lady and the original Camelot, but then who spent 35 years away. Victor/Victoria has produced more than its share of headlines even before opening in fall 1995. Julie Andrews returning to the Broadway stage was the theatrical equivalent of a Beatles reunion: something nearly everyone wanted, but never expected would happen. She reportedly agreed as a favor to her husband, director and librettist Blake Edwards. The musical is an adaptation of Edwards' film, in which Andrews also starred.

When the show failed to be nominated as Best Musical in 1996 -- indeed, no one from the show but Andrews was nominated for a Tony -- the star declined her nomination, saying she preferred to stand in solidarity with her "egregiously overlooked" castmates.

Andrews had several illnesses, including the removal of her gall bladder, which caused her to miss some performances. In January 1997 Liza Minnelli subbed for a vacationing Andrews, during which co-star Tony Roberts feuded -- and made up with -- Minnelli.

Andrews has become a fixture at New York theatre-related events (other than the Tonys), and her nightly audience appeals on behalf of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS made the show a juggernaut winner of fundraising prizes at BC/EFA events like the annual Gypsy of the Year Award and Easter Bonnet competition.

As recently as March 3, the show made headlines again at a New York political parody event in which Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared dressed as a woman. Andrews, dressed as a man, popped out to join him, and they joined in poking fun at the fact that while Andrews plays a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman, Giuliani is a "Republican pretending to be a Democrat pretending to be a Republican."

Through everything, Victor/Victoria has continued to get standing ovations at virtually every performance.

Coincidentally, Andrews' run in Victor/Victoria just a week after she appeared as a presenter at the 1997 Tony Awards. As she stepped onto the Radio City Music Hall stage, she seemed uncertain what the audience reaction would be. But there was no recrimination. She was cheered -- and she looked relieved and grateful.

But this weekend Broadway has been wondering -- will we get to see her again?

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