Cheryl Kennedy played Eliza during the long pre-Broadway but she developed vocal problems so severe that her doctors insisted she could not continue in the role when the production arrived in New York. After playing one preview in New York, she was replaced by Nancy Ringham. Ringham was not the official understudy for the role, but she had played it a couple of times during the last pre-Broadway engagment, which was in Boston. Rex Harrison found the official standby for the role, Kitty Sullivan, not to his liking. (Sullivan was married to Milo O'Shea, the production's Alfred P. Doolittle.) She had also gone on several times during the pre-Broadway tour, including for a week in Chicago when Kennedy took a vacation. She left the production during Broadway previews, although her name was still listed in the playbill on opening night, as was Cheryl Kennedy's.
The production was originally announced as a limited engagement that would end on November 7, 1981, but it extended for an additional three weeks.
Some sources list four Broadway previews for this production, but it played five previews. The confusion may have come about because the production generally played a Tuesday through Sunday schedule, but during previews there was a Monday evening performance. Later opening week, there was no performance on Thursday evening.
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