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Introducing THE PITMEN PAINTERS: Phillippa Wilson


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: Phillippa Wilson

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

I was born in York but have lived in Tynemouth (at the mouth of the river Tyne) about 9 miles from  Newcastle since I was 5.

Where did you go to school and/or study and what did you study?

All my schools were local to Tynemouth. However, I went to Manchester Polytechnic to study drama but only lasted a year.

Do you have any interesting hobbies, charity work interest, etc.?

I used to enjoy scuba diving, but now I just love spending time with my daughter, Daisy.

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

Yes. I took my daughter to Woodhorn Colliery [coal mine] to see an art installation, and we discovered the collection of paintings that the colliery (now a museum) houses.

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

I think my character Helen has evolved quite a lot. Originally she was written and portrayed as older and more rigid than she is now, but over time Lee has brought out her more spiritual softer side. Her frocks are getting better too!

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

I visited New York in 1995 and was taken to see Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard and cried all the way through. It was such an amazing spectacular production and theatrical experience but I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be part of a Broadway show. And not only is that going to happen but to do so with such a wonderful play and company of people is a dream come true!!

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

I would just like them to really appreciate the wonderful writing and get as much enjoyment as we do playing it. It's a wonderful story about ordinary people.

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

My daughter is coming out to join me for some of the time and I can't wait to experience everything with her, so I'm going to try and save a lot of it until she comes over!! I'm looking forward to all of it!!

Do you have any painting talent of your own?

No, I am totally rubbish. Like Helen, I think I'm better at appreciating art!!

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

"What You Look For" by Sam Beeton

"Don't Rain On My Parade" by Duffy

"Master of the House" from Les Miserables Soundtrack

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

"Grey's Anatomy"

"Desperate Housewives"

"Big Brother" 

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


Nanny McPhee and The Big Bang

Toy Story 3


What website is your current online addiction?

Facebook. I held out for ages and only recently joined but am now totally addicted.

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

Time Out's New York Guide

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

I can't think that far ahead!!

Favorite show on Broadway right now, or theatrical event?

It has to be Billy Elliot!! I have seen the London version and can't wait to see it on Broadway!!

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

Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing. I've always wanted to play her!!

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

To be part of a successful show on Broadway!!


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