date published: February 11, 2008

5 questions with...

Marni NixonMarni Nixon
by Josh B. Wardrop

Actress Marni Nixon’s face may be unfamiliar, but you likely know her voice—she supplied dubbed vocals for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Now, Nixon appears in the flesh playing Mrs. Higgins in a touring production of Lady at the Opera House through February 17.

Q: How has touring in My Fair Lady been so far?
Wonderful! The audiences have been lovely, the company is outstanding, and the production is so modern and impressive. It doesn’t look like a traveling show.

Q: Are you disappointed that Mrs. Higgins doesn’t have a musical number?
Not terribly—the play’s the thing, as they say! Were they to rewrite the show, though, I should certainly demand one (laughs).

Q: Did it hurt to watch movie stars get the acclaim in the ’60s when it was really you doing the singing?
Well, it was a job, and I had to be a professional. I wasn’t credited, and I had to sign contracts that I wouldn’t reveal I was singing—MGM actually threatened me during The King and I. They literally said “You’ll never work in this town again!” Today, though, it feels wonderful to have been a part of such great films.

Q: Today, movie musicals make a big point about the big names—like Renee Zellweger in Chicago and Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd—doing their own singing...
I feel very responsible for that! I think it’s good that they do it that way—provided the actor can sing.

Q: Why do you think My Fair Lady has endured so well over the years?
The heart of it is the idea of starting out at the bottom and rising up—it’s a very universal desire. And, of course, it’s got such marvelous Lerner & Loewe songs.…It’s just a wonderful show.