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Press Contact: Chris Baker

22 May 2023

The Artist

The McOnie Company announces co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth and creative team for the world premiere stage adaptation of the beloved academy award-winning film The Artist

  • Based on the original film by Michel Hazanavicius
  • Co-adapted for the stage by Lindsey Ferrentino and Drew McOnie
  • Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie

Producers today announce that the world premiere stage production of Michel Hazanavicius’ multi–Academy Award-winning film The Artist will begin its journey with a strictly limited run at Theatre Royal Plymouth from Saturday 11 May 2024 with public booking from Friday 9 June 2023. Casting to be announced.

The multi award-winning creative team for The Artist includes set and costume designs by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts I & II, Red, Frozen), music by Tony Award winner Simon Hale (Girl From The North Country, Get Up Stand Up!), lighting by Zoe Spurr (Good, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World), sound by Tony and Olivier Award winner Simon Baker (Matilda The Musical, A Christmas Carol), video by Ash J Woodward (The 47th, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), puppetry by Maia Kirkman-Richards (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and casting by Will Burton CDG. The Associate Director/Choreographer is Ebony Molina and the Musical Director is Chris Poon.

Watch interviews with the creative team here.

The Artist is a McOnie Company production produced by Theatre Royal Plymouth, The McOnie Company, Playful Productions, Bill Damaschke, Stephen and Nancy Gabriel and Underbelly.

In 1920s Hollywood the business of making dreams come true is in full swing.

Silent movie icon George Valentin has long been the darling of the silver screen when he falls for aspiring actress Peppy Miller.

But while her star is about to rise, his might soon flicker out: amidst all the glamour, laughter and romance, the silent movie industry is on the brink of a revolution.

With the Talkies on their way, George must either find his voice in a brave new world or lose everything he holds dear to a bygone era.

The Artist has mesmerised film audiences across the world for over a decade, winning five Academy Awards, seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globe Awards. Now the beguiling love story is reinvented for the stage in a dazzling celebration of silent cinema that blends cutting-edge theatre-making with iconic music of the period.

Drew McOnie, Artistic Director of The McOnie Company, said:

“Creating the world premiere stage adaptation of The Artist marks not only the start of a new era in my life as a theatre maker but also an arrival moment for The McOnie Company. I have held its development close to my heart for many years having been mesmerised by the original film. 

“To be joined by such an extraordinary creative team is thrilling and I am so grateful to the team at Theatre Royal Plymouth for supporting our vision of this story and giving us a creative home to launch this special project. Having the support of Michel Hazanavicius, the mastermind behind the original film, is incredibly important to all of us and it’s an honour to bring this beloved story to the stage.

“The Artist shows us that even within this noisy world we can find our voice if we listen with our hearts.”

James Mackenzie-Blackman, Chief Executive and Executive Producer of Theatre Royal Plymouth said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be producing the world premiere production of The McOnie Company’s The Artist, here in Plymouth. I have known Drew for many years, admired his work for many more and have no doubt, with his equally talented creative team, that they will create an extraordinary evening of theatre that will breathe new life into this beautiful story.”


Drew McOnie, Co-adapter, director and choreographer

Drew is the Artistic Director of The McOnie Company and a proud Associate Artist at The Old Vic, London and Birmingham Rep Theatre. Drew won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography for In the Heights and he was nominated for the same award the following year for the ground-breaking production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Theatre credits as director/choreographer include: On the Town (Olivier Award Nomination for Best Musical Revival– Regent’s Park), The Wild Party (The Other Palace),  King Kong (The Broadway Theatre, Broadway), Strictly Ballroom (Piccadilly Theatre, West End / Toronto / West Yorkshire Playhouse), Torch Song (The Turbine Theatre London) CAKE (UK Tour).

Select credits as a choreographer include: Carousel (Regents Park), Jesus Christ Superstar (Olivier Award Nomination for Best Theatre Choreography – Regents Park, Barbican Theatre and American National Tour), In the Heights (Olivier Award Winner for Best Theatre Choreography, Winner of the Off West End Theatre Award for Best Choreography – Southwark Playhouse and Kings Cross Theatre), The Lorax (The Old Vic), Hairspray (BroadwayWorld Award Winner for Best Choreographer – UK Tour), Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith and National Tour), Oklahoma! (National Tour), Chicago (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Tommy (European Tour).

For the McOnie Company: Jekyll and Hyde (BroadwayWorld Award Winner for Outstanding Achievement in Dance – Old Vic Theatre), DRUNK! (Curve Theatre Leicester/ The Bridewell Theatre London) which led to him being nominated for the ‘Emerging Artist Award’ at the National Dance Awards, Making Midnight (Jermyn Street Theatre/ Latitude Festival), Slaughter (Audience Choice Award Winner – The Place Prize) and Be Mine! (Robin Howard Theatre).

Ballets include: Merlin (Northern Ballet National Tour), Monochrome Suite (Sadlers Wells), The Old Man Of Lochnagar (Sadlers Wells and Hackney Empire), Little Red Riding Hood (Wimbledon Theatre), To You (Sadlers Wells).

Film credits include: Greatest Days Movie produced by Danny Perkins and Kate Solomon, Me Before You (Directed by Thea Sharrock).

Lindsey Ferrentino, Co-adapter

Lindsey Ferrentino is a prolific playwright and screenwriter who writes with, according to The New York Times, “a muscular empathy which seeks to enter the minds of people for whom life is often a struggle of heroic proportions”. Whether writing about a female burn survivor or the penning the first off-Broadway play with a leading role for a person with Down Syndrome, Lindsey has been called “a brave playwright of dauntless conviction whose unflinching portraits are hard to come by outside of journalism.”

Her produced plays include Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company, The National Theatre, UK, NYT Critics Pick), the “barrier breaking” Amy and the Orphans (Roundabout Theatre Company), This Flat Earth(Playwrights Horizons), and The Year to Come).   Ferrentino is writing the book to a number of musicals including Queen of Versailles, with Stephen Schwartz, starring Kristin Chenoweth.

Ferrentino is the recipient of the Kesselring Prize, Laurents/ Hatcher Citation of Excellence, ASCAP Cole Porter Playwriting Prize, Paul Newman Drama Award, Catalyst Award for Entertainment Industry Excellence, NYU Distinguished Young Alumna Award, 40 Under 40 at Hunter College, and is the only two-time finalist for the Kendeda Playwriting Prize.

Lindsey has various film/TV projects. Lindsey is writing and directing the feature version of her stage play Amy and the Orphans, produced by Jason Bateman’s company Aggregate. As a screenwriter, Lindsey has also penned the following features in pre-production: Ugly Lies the Bone, A Very Large Expanse of the Sea (Levantine Films) and Not Fade Away to name a few.

She is currently under commission from Roundabout, The Geffen, Manhattan Theatre Club, and South Coast Rep. She holds a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has two M.F.A.’s in playwriting from Hunter College and The Yale School of Drama.

Christopher Oram, Set and costume designs

Christopher Oram is a Tony and Olivier award-winning scenic and costume designer. He created the sets and costumes for the original stage adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, for which he won both the Olivier and Tony awards for best costume design.

Recent work includes: Frozen (Broadway / West End), Madama Butterfly (HGO) and Don Giovanni (Met). His many collaborations with Michael Grandage Company include RedHughiePhotograph 51Peter and Alice and The Cripple of Inishmaan. He has also won the Drama Desk, Evening Standard, Critic’s Circle, Garland, Falstaff and Ovation awards. Theatre credits include: Frozen (Broadway); Photograph 51Henry V, Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Cripple of Inishman (also NYC), Peter and Alice, Privates on Parade, Red, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (MGC/West End); Hughie (MGC NYC); Macbeth (Manchester International Festival & Park Avenue Armory, NYC); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Rogers/NYC); Company (Sheffield Crucible); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Streetcar Names Desire, Othello, Grand Hotel, World Music, Red, King Lear, Passion, Parade, Frost/Nixon (Donmar Warehouse); HamletMadame de SadeTwelfth NightIvanov (Donmar/Wyndham’s); Man and SupermanSummerfolkDanton’s DeathStuff HappensPowerThe Marriage Play/Finding the Sun (National Theatre); Backbeat (Glasgow Citizen’s); Evita (West End & NYC); Guys and Dolls (West End); King Lear / The Seagull (RSC, World Tour); Wolf Hall / Bring UP The Bodies (RSC, West End, NYC); World Tour); Damsel in Distress (Chichester); No’s Knife (Old Vic); The Winter’s TaleRomeo & JulietThe Entertainer (KBTC/Garrick).

Opera credits include: The Wreckers (HGO); The Turn Of The Screw (Garsington); Billy Budd (Glyndebourne/BAM); The Marriage of Figaro (Glyndebourne/HGO); Madama Butterfly (HGO); Don Giovanni (Met). 

Simon Hale, Music

Simon Hale is an orchestrator, arranger and musical supervisor. His theatre credits include: Newsies (Troubador Theatre); Girl From The North Country (Old Vic, West End, Broadway, UK & Ireland Tour – Tony Award for Best Orchestrations); Kiss My Aztec (Hartford Stage); Noir (Alley Theatre, Houston), Spring Awakening (Almeida Theatre, Broadway, West End, US Tour); Hex (National Theatre); Get Up Stand Up! (West End – Olivier Award for Best Original Score and Orchestrations); Bedknobs & Broomsticks (UK Tour); Looking A Lot Like Christmas (Donmar Warehouse); Romantics Anonymous (Shakespeare’s Globe, Bristol Old Vic, US Tour); Tootsie (Chicago, Broadway, US Tour); Strictly Ballroom (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Toronto, West End); Guys ‘n’ Dolls (Royal Exchange Theatre); Side Show (Southwark Playhouse); Finding Neverland (A.R.T. Boston, Broadway, US Tour); Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (Broadway, West End), Company (Sheffield Theatres). His film credits include: Spectre ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’ by Sam Smith.

Simon’s solo album, East Fifteen, led to recordings with many artists, including George Benson, Simply Red, Jamiroquai, Björk, Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys and Sam Smith. In 1996 he orchestrated Duncan Sheik’s first album, and their musical collaboration has continued ever since.

Zoe Spurr, Lighting design  

Zoe is a theatre lighting designer whose work has been seen on the West End, throughout the UK and internationally. She won the 2019 Theatre and Technology Award Lighting Design for The Unreturning (Frantic Assembly UK Tour), Lightmongers’ ALD Award ‘New Talent in Entertainment Lighting’ and the OFFIE award for Lighting Design for her work on Tiny Dynamite (Old Red Lion Theatre).

Recent designs include: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Southwark Playhouse); The Vortex (CFT); Bonnie And Clyde (West End); Beginning (Royal Exchange Manchester); How Not To Drown (Thickskin UK Tour); Good (Harold Pinter Theatre); The Importance Of Being Earnest (ETT), Migrations (The Welsh National Opera); Our Generation (National Theatre); She Described It To Death (Royal Opera House Linbury Studio); Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World (Kenny Wax Family Entertainment for MAST Mayflower, UK Tour); Hamlet (Bill Kenwright Ltd at Theatre Royal Windsor); The Unreturning (Frantic Assembly UK Tour); Meek (Headlong UK Tour); Emilia (West End).

Simon Baker, Sound design  

Simon Baker has worked and experienced almost every corner of the theatre sound industry. He has served time in the sound departments of both the RSC and the National Theatre where he held the post of sound supervisor, and in 1999 he joined leading British sound design and rental company, Autograph, where he stayed for 11 years.

He is Technical Director for Wise Children and an Associate Artist at The Old Vic. Simon is a Fellow of Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

His theatre credits include Groundhog Day (The Old Vic, Broadway); The Secret Life of Bees (Almeida Theatre); Hex (National Theatre); A Christmas Carol (The Old Vic, Broadway – Tony Award for Best Sound Design for a Play); Woman In Mind (Chichester Festival Theatre); Girl From The North Country (Old Vic, West End, Broadway, UK & Ireland Tour); Wuthering Heights (Wise Children, UK Tour); Bagdad Café (Wise Children, Old Vic); The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Bristol Old Vic); Faith Healer, Three Kings, Lungs, Present Laughter, Wise Children, The Caretaker, The Master Builder, Future Conditional, High Society (Old Vic); Standing At The Sky’s Edge (Sheffield Theatres); Brief Encounter (West End, UK Tour); Matilda The Musical (Royal Shakespeare Company, West End, Broadway – Olivier Award for Best Sound, Helpmann Award for Best Sound); Pinocchio (National Theatre) and The Ginning Man (Bristol Old Vic, West End).

Ash J Woodward, Video design

Ash J Woodward specialises in Video and Projection design for live performance. Ash has designed and animated content for large-scale shows in the West End, on Broadway and around the world. Ash’s work includes hand-drawn, 2D and 3D animation, cinematography, visual effects and design work for other live performance genres such as live music, exhibitions, and art installations. Ash is an associate artist at the Squint theatre company. Ash’s work in theatre as Video and Projection designer include Dear England, Hex (National Theatre); Patriots (Noël Coward); Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Worldwide); Local Hero (Chichester Festival Theatre); Famous Five the Musical (Theatre Clwyd); The 47th (Old Vic); The Glass Menagerie (Duke of York); Can I Live for ComplicitéThe Beauty Parade (Wales Millennium Centre); Bletchley Park Hut 11A (Bletchley Park); Armadillo (The Yard) and Molly (Squint Theatre).

Maia Kirkman-Richards, Puppetry director and designer

Maia is a Designer and Maker and Director of puppetry and in 2018 was selected for the Old Vic 12 as their first Puppetry Consultant.

Puppet Director credits include: There’s A Rang-Tan In My Bedroom (Little Angel & UK tour); My Cloud (National Theatre of Qatar); Our Teacher’s A Troll (Ruined Theatre); The Butterfly Lion (The Barn Theatre); A Dickensian Christmas (The Old Library); Look Up (National Tour); A Stone’s Throw (Edinburgh International Festival).

Puppet Design credits include: There’s A Rang-Tan In My Bedroom (Little Angel); The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Southwark Playhouse); Our Teacher’s A Troll (Ruined Theatre); Wind In The Willows (The Turbine Theatre & UK tour);  My Cloud (National Theatre of Qatar); The Butterfly Lion (The Barn Theatre); The Further Adventures Of The Owl And The Pussycat (The Little Angel); The Slightly Annoying Elephant (The Little Angel); Great Apes (Arcola); Jack Frost (Moon On A Stick – Norwich Theatre Royal and National Tour); Baby Bear (Moon On A Stick – National Tour); Meet The Eastenders (Museum of London Docklands); Metamorphosis (Theatrical Niche – UK Tour); The Dream Factory (National Tour).

Puppet Maker credits include: My Neighbour Totoro (Barbican); Animal Farm (UK Tour); The Magician’s Elephant (Royal Shakespeare Theatre); Gnomus (BBC Proms); Wizard Of Oz (Birmingham Rep); Peter Pan (Troubadour White City); Beauty and the Beast (Chichester Festival Theatre); Mr Poppers Penguins (International Tour); Wolves in the Walls (Little Angel and National Tour); Doctor Dolittle (UK Tour). Assistant & Associate Puppet Director credits include:  101 Dalmatians (Regents Park Open Air); The Everywhere Bear (Polka).

The McOnie Company

The McOnie Company is the hot-blooded theatre company with ‘Rock n’ Roll swagger’ (The Observer). The company is led by Producer Georgia Gatti and Olivier Award-winning director and choreographer Drew McOnie, whose work has been described as having ‘the explosive feel of barely contained ecstasy’ (Chicago Sun Times).

The company was launched to celebrate the power of visual storytelling and holds audiences at the centre of its creative mission. We are committed to creating exhilarating stories for today that push boundaries. Our wild-hearted company presents both known titles reimagined for the stage and screen, alongside brand-new work.

The McOnie Company holds a proud association with the Old Vic Theatre and Birmingham Rep.

The company’s productions include the award-winning dance-thriller reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic Theatre, the song and dance revue Drunk at the Bridewell Theatre, Making Midnight at Jermyn Street Theatre, Slaughter at The Place and Be Mine at the Robin Howard Theatre.

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