The Pitmen Painters, Lee Hall's Acclaimed Play About Unlikely Artists, Gets Broadway Canvas

News   The Pitmen Painters, Lee Hall's Acclaimed Play About Unlikely Artists, Gets Broadway Canvas
Tony Award winner Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, his award-winning play about British miners who became celebrated artists in the 1930s, will make its American premiere — with its original U.K. cast — on Broadway in September.
The London cast of The Pitmen Painters
The London cast of The Pitmen Painters Photo by Keith Pattison

Manhattan Theatre Club, by special arrangement with Bob Boyett, will produce the Live Theatre Newcastle/National Theatre of Great Britain's co-production at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, MTC's Broadway home. Max Roberts (artistic director and founding member of Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne) will again direct the original company.

The cast, who have been with the production since it premiered at Live Theatre in 2007, will include Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson.

Inspired by a book by William Feaver, and embraced by London critics, "the play tells the story of the Ashington Group — miners from Northumberland who became celebrated painters."

The Pitmen Painters was named Best Play at the 2008 Evening Standard Awards. Hall won the Best Book Tony Award for penning Billy Elliot The Musical, based on his screenplay.

This will be the first production of Manhattan Theatre Club's 2010-2011 season. Dates for The Pitmen Painters will be announced. The production will feature scenic and costume design by Gary McCann, lighting design by Douglas Kuhrt and sound design by Martin Hodgson.

Here's how MTC characterizes the new play: "The Pitmen Painters is a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class, and politics. In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favor of practice, the pitmen began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine."

The cast is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.

Playwright Hall was born in 1966 in Newcastle upon Tyne and was educated at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. His best known screenwriting credit is "Billy Elliot," which received BIFA Award for Best Screenplay; two BAFTA nominations for Best Newcomer and Best Screenplay; and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre, Broadway and Sydney), with music by Elton John, received the 2005 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical and nine Olivier Award nominations, winning five including Best New Musical. It won the Tony Award as Best Musical. Hall's playwriting credits include Spoonface Steinberg at the Ambassadors; Cooking With Elvis, which had its premiere at Live Theatre then toured to Edinburgh, transferred to the West End, toured nationally and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Comedy; adaptations including The Barber of Seville (Bristol Old Vic), The Good Hope (National), Pinocchio (Lyric Hammersmith), Mother Courage (Shared Experience), Servant to Two Masters (RSC/Young Vic), Mr. Puntila and his Man Matti (Almeida/Right Size) and Leonce and Lena (Gate Theatre). Hall is currently working on a play for the National Theatre, a new musical with Elton John, The Wall – the Musical with Roger Waters and a film about the director Douglas Sirk for Paramount.

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The cast of <i>The Pitmen Painters</i>.
The cast of The Pitmen Painters. Photo by Keith Pattison
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