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.
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.
"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
- Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.
- Time Period: 1920s, 1910s / WWI
- Setting: Various locations in New York City and Hollywood from 1912 - 1927.
- Features / Contains: Period Costumes
- Musical Style: Classic Broadway
- Vocal Demands: Moderate
- Orchestra Size: Small/Combo
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.
- Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
- Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
Music Material Rental Packages
The Biograph Girl premiered at the Gardner Centre Theatre at the University of Sussex in October of 1980 under the direction of Victor Spinetti.