Casting Announced for Musical The Biograph Girl

The Biograph Girl
The Biograph Girl

The Biograph Girl

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 opens at the Finborough Theatre for a three week limited season on Tuesday, 22 May 2018 (Press Nights: Thursday, 24 May and Friday 25 May 2018 at 7.30pm)

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 Brownand 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), wrote 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). He died in 2001.

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.

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 AlchemistThe Devil Is An AssA 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 she received an OffWestEndnomination 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).

The cast is:

Matthew Cavendish

Matthew Cavendish | Sennett

Trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

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.  

Lauren Chinery

Lauren Chinery | Dorothy Gish

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

Joshua C. Jackson | Epping

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) andShowstoppers the Improvised Musical.

Television and Film includes Autopsy, Black Mirror and American Animals.

Commercials include Apple and Knorr.

Emily Langham

Emily Langham | Lillian Gish

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 (National and European Tour), Mack and Mabel (Chichester Festival Theatre and National Tour) and Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre).

Television includes HelpStupid and Dead Ringers.

Radio includes Friday Night is Music Night.

Workshops include A Theory of Justice: The Musical and Absolute Hell (National Theatre).

Sophie Linder-Lee

Sophie Linder-Lee | Mary Pickford

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 SlammerTop of the Pops and Halifax commercial.

Recordings include Don’t Stop Believing’ (National Tour).

Jonathan Leinmuller

Jonathan Leinmuller | D. W. Griffith

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.

Jason Morell

Jason Morell | Bitzer and Zukor

Trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama

Theatre includes Present Laughter (Theatre Royal Bath), The Merchant of VeniceThe Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company), Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Faustus; (Hampstead Theatre), The Prince and the Pauper (Unicorn Theatre), Lysistrata (Arcola Theatre), Rainsnakes (The Young Vic), The Reckless are Dying OutThe Cenci (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith); The Critic (Manchester Royal Exchange), Ritual in Blood (Nottingham Playhouse), The Duchess of MalfiRomeo and JulietThe Double InconstancyThe Rehearsal (Salisbury Playhouse), The Silver Lake(Wilton’s Music Hall), Swan White (Gate Theatre), The Artificial Jungle (Leicester Haymarket), The Leonardo ProjectThe Cutting of the ClothThe 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 PhotocopierSecret LoveThe LakeThe GatheringMrs BrownWildeBiddyPrincess and Damage.

Television includes Doctor WhoAffinityUltimate ForceMy Dad’s the Prime MinisterHear the SilenceSecond SightAristophanesThe Gods are laughing, The Bill and J’Accuse Agatha.

Charlie Ryall

Charlie Ryall | Rose

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 CourtesansThe 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 MoonJake’s Progress and A Touch of Frost.

Nova Skipp

Nova Skipp | Momma

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), FolliesMeet Me in St LouisDamn Yankees(Landor Theatre), Apartment 40C (The Other Palace), Anything Goes(Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Gentlemen Prefer BlondesAnnieThe King and IAcorn AntiquesThe Two Most Perfect ThingsAbigail’s PartyCarrie’s WarThe 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 DreamTroilus 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 ShowGrease (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 ExcellencyOnce Upon a Dream and Children’s Musical 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 MountainsA “Gilbert and Sullivan” Double Bill featuring Gilbert’s play Sweetheartsand 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 StrikesGay’s The Word, Valley of Song and Thérèse Raquin are all available on CD.

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 director Jenny Eastop

“Beautifully brought to light in the detailed direction of Jenny Eastop” ★★★★ Four Stars, 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” ★★★★★ Five Stars, LondonTheatre1 on Warde Street

“Bang on direction by Jenny Eastop” ★★★★ Four Stars, WhatsOnStage on Warde Street

“A very tight production” ★★★★★ Five Stars, LondonTheatre1 on The Devil Is An Ass

“Director Jenny Eastop…distilled whisky-strong, plastic-melting performances”

★★★★ Four Stars, QX Magazine on The Waiting Room

“This production is further proof of the exceptional theatre we have in the UK” ★★★★★ Five Stars, The New Current on School for Wives


Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Book online at

Box Office 01223 357851. (Calls are free. There will be a 5% booking fee.) Lines are open Monday– Saturday 10.00am-6.00pm

Tuesday, 22 May – Saturday, 9 June 2018

Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm. Sunday matinees at 3.00pm. Saturday matinees at 3.00pm (from 2 June 2018).

Prices until 27 May 2018 – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.

Previews (22 and 23 May) £14 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 26 May 2018when booked online only.

Prices from 29 May 2018 – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

Performance Length: Approximately two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes.