The Biograph Girl

by  David Heneker, Warner Brown

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  4m, 5f

This British salute to Hollywood's glorious era of silent pictures is ideal for stock and community theatres. Characters include D. W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, Mary Pickford, and Lillian Gish.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 5f
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Biography, Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From West End
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Set in the early 20th century when silent film was still a new form of media, Dorothy and Lillian Gish follow their family friend, the newly dubbed Mary Pickford, to New York City to become actresses in moving pictures. They are introduced to D.W. Griffith and he casts Lillian in his film The Birth of a Nation. The movie's lack of success forces D.W. to vow make an even bigger movie, while Lillian struggles with maintaining the image that he audiences have attributed to her. When Intollerance is also a commercial flop, D.W. urges Lillian to take an offer from another studio so that she can earn a living wage. Soon after the industry makes a huge shift with the introduction of sound in pictures, forcing every film industry member to asses their place in the business.

This British salute to Hollywood's glorious era of silent pictures is ideal for stock and community theatres. 

Read more +

Reviews

REVIEWS

"This delightfully unassuming show contains the same naive charm as those early flicks.... [It's a] minor miracle." - The Daily Mail

"A joyous celebration." - International Herald Tribune

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1920s, 1910s / WWI
  • Setting: Various locations in New York City and Hollywood from 1912 - 1927.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Small/Combo

Song Samples

The Moving Picture Show
0:00
Working in Flickers
0:00
That's What I Get All Day
0:00
Diggin' Gold Dust
0:00
Every Lady Needs a Master
0:00
I Just Wanted to Make Him Laugh
0:00
I Like To Be The Way I Am In My Own Front Parlour
0:00
Beyond Babel
0:00
A David Griffith Show
0:00
More Than a Man
0:00
The Industry
0:00
Gentle Fade
0:00
Nineteen Twenty Five
0:00
The Biograph Girl
0:00
One of the Pioneers
0:00
Put it in The Tissue Paper
0:00

Casting

4m, 5f
LILLIAN GISH - A major star of silent films and a greatly respected figure of the American theatre to this day.
DOROTHY GISH - Her younger sister and an equal success in silent films though in a lighter vein.
MRS. MARY ROBINSON GISH - Actress mother of Lillian and Dorothy. Her close friend was Mrs. Charlotte Smith, mother of Gladys Smith
GLADYS SMITH aka MARY - Acheived international fame and considerable fortune as Mary Pickford, "the world's sweetheart". Although not the original "Biograph Girl", she inherited the title when Florence Lawrence left Griffith to go to another studio.
DAVID WARK GRIFFITH - Greatest of the pioneer film directors. His classic, The Birth of a Nation, is still frequently shown in specialist cinemas.
G.W. "BILLY" BITZER - Griffith's cameraman for 16 years. Primitive camera obliged him to improvise which accidentally gave Griffith some of his finest efects, among them the fade-out.
JOHANNES CHARLEMAGNE EPPING - Griffith's accountant who secretly invested D.W.'s money in non-revocable annuities and saved him from spending his last years in penury.
ROSE SMITH - Griffith's long time assistant, but the character as presented in this play is a compilation of several different people.
ADOLPH ZUKOR - One of the small time sales (mostly from central Europe) who became the big time bosses of Hollywood. He died in 1976 aged 103.
MACK SENNETT - The king of silent film comedy who introduced Charlie Chaplin to the screen and created the Keystone Kops.
WALTER L. HALL - Nicknamed "Spec" (short for prespective), pioner scenic designer, was largely responsible for the famous set design of Babylon. It was often thought Griffith produced his own designs on an ad hoc basis, but Hall's plans exist to prove the contribution he made to Intolerance.
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Cast Attributes

  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Resources

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package

Piano/Vocal Score
Reed 1
Reed 2
Reed 3
2nd Piano
Percussion
Bass
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Trombone
Drums

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Authors

David Heneker

David Heneker

Warner Brown

Warner Brown is an internationally-renowned writer whose work encompasses everything from the traditional form to the radical avant garde. He has collaborated with the composers Angelo Badalamenti, Michael Feinstein, Jenny Giering, Tony Hatch, David Heneker, Gwyneth Herbert, Michael Reed, Jimmy Roberts, Joshua Schmidt, ...

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The Biograph Girl premiered at the Gardner Centre Theatre at the University of Sussex in October of 1980 under the direction of Victor Spinetti. 

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