Song Spotlight: “I Could Have Danced All Night”

Three couples dancing closely. Label reads "musical."
  • Mood: Wistful, Excited
  • Themes: Musicals, Marni Nixon
  • Tempo: Up-Beat
  • Genre/Style: Musical

When watching musicals and films, a lot happens behind the scenes to create movie magic. Some of these tricks are scene edits and cuts, creating mystical words, and even changing whose voice is heard in the film. Enter Marni Nixon, a professional singer whose voice was used to overdub the famous actresses seen in many musical films. Despite her extensive work, she was not given credit or royalties for many of the dubbing roles she performed.

One of the roles that Marni Nixon was hired to overdub was the singing parts in the film My Fair Lady. The leading actress in the film was Audrey Hepburn, whose voice is heard throughout the film in her speaking roles, but whenever her character Eliza breaks into song, Marni Nixon’s voice has been added to the film. Nixon worked hard to make it seem as though it was the actress who was genuinely singing in the films and the public generally did not know! The same year that My Fair Lady was to be released on film, Nixon was cast in the New York City Center’s production of My Fair Lady in 1965 as Eliza. It was during this time that she briefly appeared in Time Magazine as “Ghostest of the Mostest” for her uncredited work in My Fair Lady and was featured on a TV game show trying to identify her as her identity was then not well known.

One song from that musical, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” is a great song to use in a group and would go well with a collection of songs from musicals or songs dubbed from musicals by Marni Nixon. It can be used as a transition into group discussion, or as an opportunity for musical engagement and movement.

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into a collection of songs from musicals or other songs that Marni Nixon sang. Other complementary songs may include “Singing in the Rain,” “Maria,” and “Memory.”

Discussion: Encourage the group to discuss if they ever danced or had a favorite song to dance to.

Share pictures of the actress Audrey Hepburn and Marni Nixon.

Write a list of your favorite musicals and what you love about them. Try watching one a week until you make it through the list.

Movement: You can do expressive or dramatic movement to this piece, or you can act out the lyrics of the song if you are feeling inspired.

Watch the performance of this piece in context of the musical.

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