Book by Warner Brown
Lyrics by Warner Brown and David Heneker
Music by David Heneker

Tuesday, 22 May – Saturday, 9 June 2018

The first professional UK production since its 1980 premiere

""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." 

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. 


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.


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 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).


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. 


 “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.


“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 


Tuesday, 22 May – Saturday, 9 June 2018

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Saturday Matinees 3.00pm (from 2 June 2018).

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

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 30's 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 2018 when 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. 

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here



Book Tickets for The Biograph Girl

Tuesday, 22 May – Saturday, 9 June 2018

Directed by Jenny Eastop

Presented by Mercurius in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

Presented by arrangement with Samuel French Limited.

Casting to be announced.