Luke Evans & Penelope Wilton to star in Backstairs Billy in the West End

Hollywood star Luke Evans and British theatre royalty Penelope Wilton are set to star in new play Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, directed by Michael Grandage.

Backstairs Billy will run at the Duke of York’s theatre from 27 October 2023 to 27 January 2024.

Book tickets to Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

A new play by Marcelo Dos Santos

The new play by Marcelo Dos Santos is about the Queen Mother (Penelope Wilton), and her most loyal servant William Tallon (Luke Evans).

It examines the relationship between the Queen Mother and Billy Tallon, who served the royal household for over 50 years, set in 1979 against the backdrop of strikes that are bringing the country to its knees.

As Margaret Thatcher is set to take to the world stage in British politics, over at Clarence House receptions are still in full swing and the champagne is flowing for Queen Mother and her loyal servant Billy, but the two worlds start to collide with dizzying consequences.

Marcelo Dos Santos’s other work includes Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen, which was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe starring Samuel Barnett, and is coming to the Bush Theatre this November.

Directed by Michael Grandage

Michael Grandage (Frozen The Musical) directs a cast of 12 actors for the play, with further casting to be announced.

The creative team will also include Set Design by Christopher Oram; Costume Design by Christopher Oram and Tom Rand; Lighting Design by Ryan Day; Music and Sound design by Adam Cork; Wigs, Hair & Makeup Design by Carole Hancock; Casting Director Jacob Sparrow; Associate Director Sophie Drake; Costume Supervisor Mary Charlton.

Director Michael Grandage said in a statement: “It is always a great moment to celebrate the birth of a new comedy in the West End and particularly from an important new voice such as Marcelo Dos Santos. I am thrilled to be working again with Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans alongside a cast of twelve other actors as we bring an exciting new play to the stage this autumn and over the Christmas period ahead.”

Backstairs Billy is produced by the Michael Grandage Company (MGC) and MGC and Sand & Snow Entertainment.

Penelope Wilton as The Queen Mother

Penelope Wilton has worked with director Michael Grandage a number of times before, including Hamlet at the Wyndham’s Theatre, and during Grandage’s tenure at the Donmar Warehouse, namely The Chalk Garden and John Gabriel Borkman.

Dame Penelope Wilton is one of Britain’s great actors, performing in a huge range of work on both stage and screen. Her onscreen credits include BBC sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles, The Borrowers, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who and After Life.

On stage, the Olivier Award winning actor has performance credits including Taken at Midnight, The Chalk Garden, The Little Foxes, The Secret Rapture, Much Ado About Nothing and The Deep Blue Sea.

Actor Penelope Wilton said to the Guardian that Backstairs Billy is “a joyful and compassionate play. It brings the Queen Mother into Technicolor rather than being a pastel person in pale chiffon. She suddenly becomes a very vibrant person and we see her for herself, not just for being the Queen’s mother. Billy allowed her to be who she was.”

Luke Evans as Billy Tallon

Luke Evans teased his new stage role last week in a series of social media posts, saying that he started his career on stage and that, “As many of you will know, I started my acting career on the stage, “it’s been 16 years since I did a play on the West End, that is way too long!! So, I’m thrilled to say that I have a big announcement for you all.”

Luke Evans spent 8 years performing in the West End early on in his career, in roles including Cameron Mackintosh’s Avenue Q and Miss Saigon, Jamie Lloyd’s production of Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse, and Boy George musical Taboo.

He is best known for his screen work, including roles in big Hollywood franchises The Hobbit and Fast and Furious, and in Disney live action movies Beauty and the Beast and Pinocchio.

Actor Luke Evans told the Guardian today that: “When I read the script, it made me giggle out loud so hard. It’s just so entertaining and such a joyous story about these two people: the Queen Mother, who was super famous, but also Billy. He was always there and spent most of his life working for her.”

The Duke of York’s Theatre

Backstairs Billy is scheduled to play at the Duke of York’s theatre between 27 October 2023 and 27 January 2024.

Currently playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre is The Pillowman starring Lilly Allen and Steve Pemberton, until 2 September 2023. Vanya starring Andrew Scott is playing at the West End venue from 16 September to 21 October 2023.

Book tickets to Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Backstairs Billy

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📷 Main photo: Backstairs Billy - Casting: Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans (Photo: Tim Palen)

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