Book by Warner Brown
Lyrics by Warner Brown and David Heneker
Music by David Heneker
22 May 2018 - 9 June 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."
The first professional UK production since its 1980 premiere
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.
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 1927 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 fifteen 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.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER DAVID HENEKER
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), wrote English lyrics for Irma La Douce (1958), Make Me An Offer (with Monty Norman) which won the Evening Standard Best Musical Award, (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). He died in 2001.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT WARNER BROWN
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. Work in Europe and the US includes Garbo - The Musical and Flickers. For BBC Worldwide and Global Creatures, Warner wrote the arena show Walking With Dinosaurs - the Arena Spectacular which won many international awards, including the Billboard Magazine Creative Content Award. Warner has extensive writing credits for the BBC and was Script Associate of the BBC Classic Musical series for which he adapted fourteen musicals and directed such artists as Anthony Newley, Barbara Cook and Tyne Daly. He is co-sponsor of The S&S Award for new musical theatre writing.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR JENNY EASTOP
Director Jenny Eastop returns to the Finborough Theatre following her production of Mr Gillie for which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director. She is Artistic Director of Mercurius Theatre for whom she has directed The Waiting Room (Leicester Square Theatre and Above the Arts Theatre), The Alchemist, The Devil Is An Ass, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and A Trick to Catch the Old One (all at The Rose Playhouse, Bankside), Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles (Jermyn Street Theatre), and School for Wives (White Bear Theatre) for which he received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director. Jenny has also directed for companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre Studio and London New Play Festival, including the premiere of Peter Nichols’ new play So Long Life (Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Warde Street (Park Theatre) for which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director, and Henna Night (Leicester Square Theatre). Jenny has worked as Associate Director to Michael Blakemore on The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Blithe Spirit, with Angela Lansbury (Gielgud Theatre and US Tour), Embers, with Jeremy Irons (Duke of York’s Theatre), Democracy (National Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre, Broadway, and Sydney Theatre Company), Afterlife (National Theatre), Three Sisters, with Kristin Scott Thomas (Playhouse Theatre). Resident Direction includes working with Roger Michell on Blue/Orange (Duchess Theatre) and The Homecoming (National Theatre), and Matthew Warchus on The Devil Is an Ass (Royal Shakespeare Company).
CELEBRATING BRITISH MUSIC THEATRE
The Finborough Theatre’s ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series has seen a host of acclaimed productions of British music theatre including both rediscoveries and premieres. Rediscoveries include Leslie Stuart’s Florodora, Lionel Monckton’s Our Miss Gibbs, Harold Fraser-Simson’s operetta The Maid of the Mountains, A "Gilbert and Sullivan" Double Bill featuring Gilbert’s play Sweethearts and Sullivan’s opera The Zoo, Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Sandy Wilson’s The Buccaneer, Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream, Gay's The Word (which transferred to Jermyn Street Theatre), and Valley of Song, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke and Princess Ida, Edward German's Merrie England, Rutland Boughton's 1914 "music-drama" The Immortal Hour, Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds' Free As Air, and Alan Price and Trevor Peacock’s Andy Capp – The Musical. Premieres have included Grant Olding’s Three Sides, Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds’ When Midnight Strikes, Paul Scott Goodman's Rooms: A Rock Romance, Phil Willmott's Princess Caraboo and Lost Boy (which transferred to Charing Cross Theatre), and Craig Adams and Nona Sheppard's Thérèse Raquin (which transferred to the Park Theatre). The Finborough Theatre cast recordings of When Midnight Strikes, Gay’s The Word, Valley of Song and Thérèse Raquin are all available on CD.
THE PRESS ON THE BIOGRAPH GIRL
★★★★ London Theatre 1
Nominated for an OffWestEnd Award
Best Female Performance in a Supporting Role (Musical) - Emily Langham
Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role (Musical) - Matthew Cavendish
“A fascinating piece.” Paul In London
“An intriguing path through the early days of Hollywood.” Matt Breen, Time Out
“A really refreshing and solid musical, let us hope this revival brings it to the masses as it deserves.” Shanine Salmon, View from the Cheap Seat.
“There are at least two wonderful, iconic musicals about silent movies such as Mack & Mabel and Singing In The Rain and The Biograph Girl is right up there with them.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“A surprisingly progressive look at the silent film industry, focusing on the women who lead the way.” Shanine Salmon, View from the Cheap Seat.
“Witty lyrics by Brown.” Julia Rank, The Stage
“The twenty-one songs are all excellent encompassing silent movie music, a pastiche or two and some modern ballads.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“Matthew Cavendish’s Sennett is brimming with physical comedy, and his mime routine, pratfalls and all, is one of the musical’s highlights.” Scott Matthewman, Musical Theatre Review
“Matthew Cavendish is a superb one-man Keystone movie.” Johnny Fox, My Theatre Mates
“Matthew Cavendish’s pratfalling, scene-stealing performance.” Stephen Bates, Reviews Hub
“Matthew Cavendish gives a great comedy performance.” Shanine Salmon, View from the Cheap Seat.
“Matthew Cavendish is a one-man slapstick powerhouse.” Paul In London
“Matthew Cavendish tumbles, stumbles, trips and pratfalls, just like the Keystone Cops did, and display the vocal and comic skills of a young Donald O’Connor.” Bill Hagerty, Fulham Gazette
“Sophie Linder-Lee plays Pickford with a Bette Midler style and level of comic energy that is delightful.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London
“Sophie Linder-Lee is a bright and breezy Pickford, fizzing with charm and making every line of Brown’s book pop.” Scott Matthewman, Musical Theatre Review
“Fall in love with the burst of energy that Linder-Lee brings.” Yasmin Simsek, Upper-Circle.
“Sophie Linder-Lee sings wonderfully.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“Sophie Linder-Lee as Mary Pickford is terrific as the movie star and canny businesswoman. She steals the show with her tap dancing and steely determination.” Paul In London
“Strong vocals (especially from Linder-Lee), solid direction and tight choreography.” Matt Breen, Time Out
“Excellent performances. In the cast of nine, everyone is engaging, focused and talented with tremendous collective energy – ex-Glinda Sophie Linder-Lee makes Mary a likeable combination of winsomeness and steel.” Johnny Fox, My Theatre Mates
“One particular highlight is Joshua C. Jackson’s heartfelt rendition of ‘Rivers of Blood’, a politically charged number that was cut from the original production.” Jonathan Evans, The Spy in the Stalls.
“David Heneker’s catchy numbers performed with passion by Joshua C Jackson.” Shanine Salmon, View from the Cheap Seat.
“Played with a cool assurance by Jonathan Leinmuller.” Jonathan Evans, The Spy in the Stalls
“Jonathan Leinmuller is in fine voice and movingly captures the distress of the master movie-maker.” Bill Hagerty, Fulham Gazette
“Jonathan Leinmuller is a splendidly laid-back D W Griffith.” Johnny Fox, My Theatre Mates
“Jonathan Leinmuller sings beautifully.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“Great performances, particularly from its leads Langham and Leinmuller as the creative double act of Gish and Griffit.” Shanine Salmon, View from the Cheap Seat.
“Emily Langham is delightful.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“Excellent performances.” Stephen Bates, Reviews Hub
“The cast injects the piece with endless energy.” Paul In London
“Incredible performers.” Yasmin Simsek, Upper-Circle.
“The performances are all terrific.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1
“Jenny Eastop’s unfussy, sweetly sung production.” Julia Rank, The Stage
“All the cast excel in performing Holly Hughes’ effervescent choreography.” Scott Matthewman, Musical Theatre Review
“Holly Hughes’s bubbly choreography.” Julia Rank, The Stage
THE PRESS ON THE 1980 WEST END PREMIERE OF THE BIOGRAPH GIRL
“A most excellent, delicate and perceptive entertainment…after fifty years of play going I was taken by delighted surprise. I would ask all London to go and see it." Sir Harold Hobson, Drama
“Tuneful, witty and sophisticated.” Francis King, Sunday Telegraph
“A sweet lament for lost innocence ... this delightfully unassuming show contains the same naive charm as those early flicks' themselves. A minor miracle.” Jack Tinker, Daily Mail
“A joyous celebration of the silent screen ... a delight. It captures moments of sheer exuberant nostalgia.” Sheridan Morley, International Herald Tribune.
THE PRESS ON JENNY EASTOP
“Beautifully brought to light in the detailed direction of Jenny Eastop” ★★★★ The Arts Desk on Mr Gillie
“Eastop's production is warm and big-hearted” Broadway World on Mr Gillie
“Great credit to the show’s director Jenny Eastop” ★★★★★ LondonTheatre1 on Warde Street
“Bang on direction by Jenny Eastop” ★★★★ WhatsOnStage on Warde Street
“A very tight production” ★★★★★ LondonTheatre1 on The Devil Is An Ass
“Director Jenny Eastop…distilled whisky-strong, plastic-melting performances” ★★★★ QX Magazine on The Waiting Room
“This production is further proof of the exceptional theatre we have in the UK” ★★★★★ The New Current on School for Wives
Trained at LAMDA.
Theatre includes Showstopper! (Lyric Theatre) the original Broadway cast of The Play That Goes Wrong (Lyceum Theatre, New York City), The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre) Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Apollo Theatre and National Tour), Lights! Camera! Improvise! (Edinburgh Festival), Sleeping Beauty (Park Theatre), The Boys From Syracuse (Union Theatre), The Borrowers, winner of the TMA Best Children’s Show (Northern Stage, Newcastle), An Intimate Evening with Ruthie Henshall (Apex Theatre, Suffolk) and News Revue (Canal Café Theatre).
Television includes A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong.
Matt is a member of both the Olivier and Tony award winning companies Mischief Theatre and Showstopper - The Improvised Musical.
Trained at Performance Preparation Academy, Guildford.
Theatre includes Miss Nightingale (London Hippodrome), Beauty and the Beast (Cast, Doncaster), Dreamboats and Petticoats (National Tour), Gatsby (Leicester Square Theatre) and Can't Stop It (London Theatre Workshop).
Joshua C. Jackson
Trained at The Arts Educational School London.
Theatre includes Caliban (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), The Motherf**ker With the Hat and Icarus’s Mother (Andrew Lloyd Webber Theatre), Keeping It Real (Edinburgh Festival) and Showstoppers the Improvised Musical.
Television and Film includes Autopsy, Black Mirror and American Animals.
Commercials include Apple and Knorr.
Trained at Arts Educational Schools having been awarded an Andrew Lloyd Webber Scholarship.
Theatre includes Follies (National Theatre), Mrs Henderson Presents (Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto), Cats (UK and European Tour), Mack and Mabel (Chichester Festival Theatre and National Tour) and Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre).
Television includes Help, Stupid and Dead Ringers.
Radio includes Friday Night is Music Night.
Workshops include A Theory of Justice: The Musical and Absolute Hell (National Theatre).
Trained at Performers College where she was the winner of the Music Award and Third Year Award.
Theatre includes Big Fish (The Other Palace), The Rocky Horror Show (Italian Tour and Oxford Playhouse), The Rocky Horror Show (National Tour) and the 42nd anniversary gala performance of Rocky Horror Live (Playhouse Theatre), Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre), Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales Theatre), Silence! The Musical (Barons Court Theatre), Apollo Victoria 80th Anniversary Gala (Apollo Victoria Theatre), P and O Cruises (Stadium Theatre Company), Broadway’s Spirit of Christmas (US Tour), Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella (Towngate Theatre, Basildon) and Cinderella (QDOS).
Film includes Rocky Horror Live and Mamma Mia! The Movie (pre-production workshop).
Television includes dancer on The X Factor with Mamma Mia!, The Slammer, Top of the Pops and Halifax commercial.
Recordings include Don’t Stop Believing’ (National Tour).
Trained at Drama Centre London.
Theatre includes Lucky Stiff (Union Theatre), Domestic Extremists (The Space), A Bright Room Called Day (Southwark Playhouse), Innovation (Park Theatre), Darling of the Day (Union Theatre), Billy Budd (Southwark Playhouse), Little Baby Nothing (Theatre503), Paradise (Arcola Theatre), Pericles (Rose Theatre) and Elegant Fowl (Old Red Lion Theatre).
Film includes Latitude the Movie.
Television includes Argentine Tango
Bitzer and Zukor
Trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama
Theatre includes Present Laughter (Theatre Royal Bath), The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company), Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Faustus; (Hampstead Theatre), The Prince and the Pauper (Unicorn Theatre), Lysistrata (Arcola), Rainsnakes (The Young Vic), The Reckless are Dying Out, The Cenci (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith); The Critic (Manchester Royal Exchange), Ritual in Blood (Nottingham Playhouse), The Duchess of Malfi, Romeo and Juliet, The Double Inconstancy, The Rehearsal (Salisbury Playhouse), The Silver Lake (Wilton’s Music Hall), Swan White (Gate Theatre), The Artificial Jungle (Leicester Haymarket), The Leonardo Project, The Cutting of the Cloth, The Difficult Man (National Theatre Studio), Hamlet (National and International Tour) and Gertrude, the Cry, Thirteen Objects (The Wrestling School at Riverside Studios and Elsinore Castle).
Film includes Photocopier, Secret Love, The Lake, The Gathering, Mrs Brown, Wilde, Biddy, Princess and Damage.
Television includes Doctor Who, Affinity, Ultimate Force, My Dad’s the Prime Minister, Hear the Silence, Second Sight, Aristophanes, The Gods are laughing, The Bill and J’Accuse Agatha.
Trained at Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
Theatre includes The Bashful Lover and The Elder Brother (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), NewsRevue (Canal Café Theatre), The Feigned Courtesans, The Alchemist and The Devil is an Ass (Rose Theatre), Bugsy Malone (Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon), Much Ado About Nothing (New Wimbledon Theatre), King Lear (Cockpit Theatre), Macbeth (Lion and Unicorn Theatre), Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Importance of Being Earnest (Brighton Festival), Buchwald and Friends! A Victoria Wood Revue (Leicester Square Theatre) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (New London Theatre and National Tour)
Film includes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.
Television includes First Men in the Moon, Jake's Progress and A Touch of Frost.
Trained at the Arts Educational Schools, London.
Theatre includes Aspects of Love (Prince of Wales Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Salad Days (Vaudeville Theatre and National Tour), Chess in Concert (Royal Albert Hall), The Sound of Music (London Palladium), Assassins (Pleasance London), Follies, Meet Me in St Louis, Damn Yankees (Landor Theatre), Apartment 40C (The Other Palace), Anything Goes (Upstairs at the Gatehouse). Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Annie, The King and I, Acorn Antiques, The Two Most Perfect Things, Abigail’s Party, Carrie’s War, The Smallest Show on Earth and Funny Girl (National Tours), Cats (Stuttgart), The Sound of Music (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Kes (Theatre Royal York and Derby Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Troilus and Cressida (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park), Oklahoma!, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Bedroom Farce and Carousel (Octagon Theatre, Yeovil), Carousel (Perth Theatre, Scotland), The Rocky Horror Show, Grease (Gaiety Theatre, Isle of Man), Side by Side by Sondheim and Annie (Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage), Pardon Me, Prime Minister and Hay Fever (Theatre Royal Windsor).
Recordings include His Excellency, Once Upon a Dream and Children’s Musical Theatre.
22 May 2018 - 9 June 2018
Tickets and Times
|Sunday||3:00pm (from 2 June 2018)|
2hrs and 30mins with an interval of 15 mins