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Casting announced for The Biograph Girl at Finborough Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CASTING has been announced for The Biograph Girl by Warner Brown and David Heneker, which runs at the Finborough Theatre for a three week limited season – from Tuesday, May 22 to Saturday, June 9, 2018.

The line up includes Matthew Cavendish (as Sennett), Lauren Chinery (Dorothy Gish), Joshua C. Jackson (Epping), Emily Langham (Lillian Gish), Jonathan Leinmuller (D. W. Griffith), Sophie Linder-Lee (Mary Pickford), Jason Morell (Bitzer and Zukor), Charlie Ryall (Rose) and Nova Skipp (Momma).

Previously Posted: In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre as part of their acclaimed ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series, the first professional UK production since its 1980 premiere, The Biograph Girl by Warner Brown and David Heneker runs at the Finborough Theatre for a three week limited season – from Tuesday, May 22 to Saturday, June 9, 2018.

You laugh at your flickers, Miss Gish. But you wouldn’t laugh at the Mona Lisa.
The Mona Lisa’s art.”
My pictures are a new kind of art. Maybe more important.

From the composer of Half A Sixpence, a joyous musical celebration of Hollywood’s glorious era of silent film – beginning in 1912 when disreputable “flickers” are shown in fleapits and no self-respecting actor will appear in them, and ending in 1928 with movies now a glamorous, multi-million dollar industry and the first talking pictures signal the doom of silent films.

In a breath taking sweep of just sixteen years, the great innovative directors created filmmaking as we know it today, ground breaking movie moguls laid the foundations of the entertainment industry, and trail blazing actors launched the Hollywood star system.

Weaving together the heartbreaks and triumphs of the flawed genius director D. W. Griffith and the first movie stars Lilian Gish and Mary Pickford, The Biograph Girl is a love letter to the stardust and scandals of the silent movie era.

The libretto has been especially revised for this production by its original co-writer Warner Brown and includes – for the very first time – the reintroduction of songs cut from the West End premiere production.

The Biograph Girl received its West End premiere at the Phoenix Theatre in 1980, directed by Victor Spinetti, with Lillian Gish in the audience. This production is directed by Jenny Eastop who returns to the Finborough Theatre following her production of Mr Gillie for which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director.

Composer David Heneker (1906-2001) remains best known for his classic British musical Half A Sixpence, recently revived to huge acclaim in Chichester and the West End. His other musicals include Expresso Bongo (with Monty Norman) (1958), the English lyrics for Irma La Douce (1958), Make Me An Offer (with Monty Norman) which won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical (1959), Half a Sixpence (1963) starring Tommy Steele, which won Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Original Score and was filmed, Charlie Girl (with John Taylor) which ran in the West End for five years (1965), Jorrocks (1966), Phil the Fluter (1969), The Amazons (1970), Popkiss (1972), Hullabaloo (1972) and Peg (1984).

Playwright and lyricist Warner Brown works on both sides of the Atlantic. As a bookwriter and lyricist, he has collaborated with the composers Angelo Badalamenti, Michael Feinstein, Tony Hatch, David Heneker, Michael Reed, Jimmy Roberts, Joshua Schmidt, Jim Steinman, Charles Strouse, George David Weiss and, by permission of the Cole Porter Trusts, the late Cole Porter. His work in the UK and London includes Son Of A Preacher Man (current UK National Tour), Cinderella (London Palladium), Six For Gold and The Black and White Ball (King’s Head Theatre), the play The Prospero Suite (Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham), The House On The Corner (Edinburgh Festival) and the new version of Half A Sixpence.

Presented by Mercurius in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre and by special arrangement with Samuel French Limited, The Biograph Girl has music direction by Harry Haden-Brown, choreography by Holly Hughes, set and costume design by Anna Yates and lighting design by Ali Hunter.

For more information or to buy tickets, call the box office on 01223 357851 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.

Also at the Finborough Theatre: the first professional London production in 35 years of Sarah Daniels’ seminal feminist play, Masterpieces (until May 19, 2018).