Instead, she will play Eliza, the Cockney flower seller schooled in elegance by the starchy professor Henry Higgins. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” the show features a score, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, dotted with such classics as “On the Street Where You Live” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.”
“‘Funny Girl’ was just an unfortunate series of circumstances,” Mr. Sher said in a phone call from London, where he was overseeing the transfer of the play “Oslo” to the West End. “Lauren is an extraordinarily talented actor, who has such an amazing combination of skills. So in a weird way, it’s kind of even better to be doing Shaw, Lerner and Loewe.”
“My Fair Lady” had its premiere on Broadway in 1956, and has been revived there three times since, most recently in 1993. Four years ago, the music mogul Clive Davis announced that he was in discussions to bring the musical back, though that never materialized.
Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison famously introduced the lead roles on stage; Audrey Hepburn (her singing voice dubbed by Marni Nixon) played Eliza opposite Harrison in the 1964 movie, which won eight Oscars, including best picture.
“People’s associations with it are very dominated by the film,” Mr. Sher said. “So it’s an interesting work to return to see in a new light.”
His “My Fair Lady” begins previews March 15 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, and will officially open on April 19.
Calling the show “truly one of the great musicals ever written,” he added: “We’re going to crack it.”