PHOTO CALL: Lee Hall's Pitmen Painters, With Original U.K. Cast, Opens on Broadway
By Irina Khodorkovsky
Tony Award winner Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, his acclaimed play about British miners who became celebrated artists in the 1930s and '40s, officially made its American premiere — with its original U.K. cast — by opening on Broadway Sept. 30 at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
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 artists. The five men in the play are a theatrical representation of more than 30 members of the group. The characters also include a "dental mechanic" and an unemployed fellow; they are not miners.
Here is a look at the opening night:
Previews for this production began Sept. 14. Max Roberts (artistic director and founding member of Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne) again directs the original company. The cast members, who premiered at Live Theatre in 2007, include Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis (as an artists' model), Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson (as a rich art lover). They appear with the permission of Actors' Equity Association. The company also includes Jack Koenig, Trevor Fox and Christa Scott-Reed.
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."
Tickets for the production are on sale by visiting Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200. The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is at 261 West 47th Street. For more information, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.
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