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Introducing THE PITMEN PAINTERS: Lisa McGrillis


The Pitmen Painters recently concluded an acclaimed run at London's Royal National Theatre. Inspired by a book by William Feaver, and hailed by London critics as "a glorious instant classic" (Evening Standard), "a wonderful piece of theatre" (Financial Times) "a beautiful work of art that everybody should see" (The Times of London), and "a superb piece of work; warm, funny, sad, and thought-provoking" (The Daily Telegraph), 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.Max Roberts directs the British cast, which will include Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson. The play begins previews Sept. 14 and opens Sept. 30 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. is excited to present a new series where each day we'll introduce a new member of the cast.

Next up: Lisa McGrillis

What is your hometown? How long did you live there?

I was born in Cheltenham and I moved to Carlisle in Cumbria when I was 5 and lived there until I was 18. I went to University in Newcastle to study performance and lived in Newcastle for 8 years. I consider my self an honorary Geordie! I'm now living in London.

Does your family still live there? Who?

I have three older brothers, two of which live in Newcastle, the other in London. My parents both still live in Carlisle.

Were you aware of the Ashington Group's story before your involvement with The Pitmen Painters?

I had no idea The Ashington Group existed before I started the show. On the second day of rehearsals we went on a 'school trip' up to the museum at the colliery [coal mine]. I was completely overwhelmed by their story; it's definitely worth a visit.

You began your journey with the show back in 2007, how has your performance evolved?

Because we have performed the show so many times sometimes there is a risk it can begin to feel a bit stale. Fortunately Mr. Hall is a bit of a genius so there is always something new to discover. Since starting the show back in 2007 I feel I've really grown into the role and discovered a real warmth and admiration for Susan. Her story is a small sub-plot in the play but there are still so many layers to her and her journey.

What are you most looking forward to about bringing the show to New York/Broadway?

It's such an important story that needs to be told and it's a privilege to be putting Ashington and the north east on the map. I just hope the American audience can understand the Geordie accent!

What do you hope Broadway audiences take away from this production?

IT IS SUCH AN INSPIRING STORY. It highlights the fact that art is for everyone. I hope that everyone who sees the show will be inspired to pick up a paint brush!

What quintessential New York experience are you most looking forward to?

All of it... I'm ready and waiting to be impressed by everything New York has to offer!

Do you have any painting talent of your own?

I did a lot of painting and drawing at school and studied Art and Art History for A level.

Top three songs that are most played on your iTunes/iPod right now (or name the three songs you always find yourself listening to).

Vampire Weekend- 'Diplomat's Son', Elbow- every song Guy Garvey has ever written and I'm listening to 'Toots and the Maytals' right now.

Name the three TV Shows that are the highest priority on your DVR (or name three television shows on "your must" watch list)?

"Mad Men", "Mad Men" and "Mad Men"- I love "Mad Men"; I want to be in "Mad Men". I want to pretty much marry Don Draper and look like Betty.

What are the next three movies in your Netflix/Blockbuster queue (or name the last three movies you watched at home)?

Shutter Island, This is England (I think Shane Meadows is a genius, he's pretty much my hero) and Avatar (in 3D)

What website is your current online addiction?

I hate to say it but I do spend more time than I should on Facebook.

What's the last book you purchased for yourself to read?

One Day by David Nicholls

Name the place you hope to visit when you go on your next vacation.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK- my next vacation is going to be a working one but it doesn't get better than New York (apparently)

What is the one role (musical theatre, straight play, television, film, opera, ballet) you MUST play before you die?

I would love to play Nora in Ibsen's- A Doll's House

Name one thing you want to accomplish in the next six months.

I would love to land a good role in a new comedy sitcom.



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