Helen Sheals, Abigail Climer, Gary Lilburn & More to Star in PAINTING THE TOWN Workshop

Painting The Town celebrates and explores disability, mental health and working class identity.

By: Jan. 26, 2023
Helen Sheals, Abigail Climer, Gary Lilburn & More to Star in PAINTING THE TOWN Workshop
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A new musical, Painting The Town, is coming to New Wimbledon Theatre for a workshop and sharing this January - February, and the cast and creatives have been announced. From Visually Impaired writer Gerard McDermott, and in partnership with Extant, the UK's leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists, Painting The Town is a new musical with accessibility at its heart. Featuring integrated Audio Description, and taking inspiration from skiffle bands and 1960s pop music, Painting The Town celebrates and explores disability, mental health and working class identity. The musical will have a workshop and sharing at New Wimbledon Theatre.

Painting The Town features music and lyrics by Visually Impaired actor-writer Gerard McDermott (Much Ado About Nothing, Sheffield Crucible; Father Brown, BBC; Vera, ITV), with music and lyrics co-written by Carl Prekopp (Venice Preserved, RSC; Queen Anne, West End; Call the Midwife, BBC), and book by BBC/Radio Times Drama Award-winner Nick Warburton (On Mardle Fen, Eastenders and The Archers, BBC; Smoking Gun, Stephen Joseph Theatre), this new feel-good musical is directed by award-winning Paul Garrington (Mamma Mia!, international tour; Whistle Down the Wind, West End; A Midsummer Night's Dream, international tour), with musical direction by Colin Guthrie (Anatol, BBC Radio 3 and Gate Theatre; Coram Boy, Tower Theatre; Ulysses, BBC Radio 4), and the assistant director is Gillian Dean (Home Fires, ITV; Manor, National Theatre; Crystal Clear, Old Red Lion Theatre).

Helen Sheals (Downton Abbey, ITV; Silent Witness, BBC; Judy!, West End) stars as Sheila Harris; Abigail Climer (Grease, UK tour; Rock of Ages, UK tour; Sex Education and Matilda the Musical, Netflix.) is Sally Fields; Gary Lilburn (The Cripple of Inishmann, Broadway/West End; Bad Sisters, Apple TV; Belgravia, ITV) is Kenny Duncan; Robin Paley Yorke (Billy Elliot, Curve Leicester; Take On This, Barbican Centre; Evros|The Crossing River, Arcola, UK tour and Kampala International Theatre Festival) is Treacle Jones; and co-writer Carl Prekopp is Ted Shipley. Lucy May Barker (Vardy v. Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial, West End; Mamma Mia!, West End, UK and international tour; Spring Awakening, West End) takes on the role of Val Slade; Tate-Elliot Drew (Henry V, UK tour; The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre; Into The Woods, Theatre Royal Bath) will star as Joe Hirst; and Jordan Louis-Fernand (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, UK tour; Stick Man, The Lowry; The Color Purple Concert, Cadogan Hall) rounds out the cast as Mark Bretherton.

Painting The Town is supported by Arts Council England and made in partnership with Extant, which is the only company run by and for Visually Impaired people in the UK, founded in 1997 by Maria Oshodi and a group of professional, Visually Impaired artists. Extant are developing the show to further reflect Gerard McDermott's lived experience as a Visually Impaired person working as a council painter-decorator, including using the workshop at New Wimbledon Theatre to build accessibility into the musical's framework through integrated Audio Description.

It's 1966 and change is in the air in a coastal town in the northeast of England. A cultural shift is afoot and the workers at the town council are yearning for more. Wages clerk Sally wants to break free of her toxic relationship, office worker Val dreams of a brighter future, council painter Mark is considering leaving town, and painter Treacle has a secret: he is Visually Impaired, which makes his work challenging. However, Treacle is not the only one harbouring a secret.

Emily Hunter Oulton, producer of Painting The Town, says, With accessibility integrated into Painting The Town's framework, the show has incredible potential to make a big impact on Disabled representation and accessibility in musical theatre.


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