What do you think, Rushers? Can you see Connel playing Dad in Billy Elliot the Musical? I can! Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!
In Lee Hall’s drama The Pitmen Painters, Christopher Connel plays the key member of a group of British miners who gain the art world’s attention with their paintings. Although Connel’s Oliver is the most talented of the miners, he fears both his newfound abilities and the consequences of overstepping his socioeconomic status. In this play based on actual events, Hall (the Tony-winning writer of Billy Elliot the Musical) has assembled a group of actors that hail from the same area of Britain as the characters. A further parallel Connel and the cast share with the close-knit miners is that the actors have known and worked with each other for decades.
The production, which has been playing with the same cast for the past three years at engagements in the United Kingdom, closes December 12. Connel sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the show’s successful run, performer camaraderie, and what happens when actors are late to the theater.
To see more of Chris Connel’s interview, tune into Stage Rush TV this Friday!
So the show closes this Sunday. What kind of run has it been?
It’s been fantastic. It’s been different to do it in a different country, to a different culture. Everybody’s had a great time. It’s a wonderful city, New York. That’s when it’s a wonderful thing to be an actor, because you have the daytime to yourself and you can go explore. To be here for three or four months, you don’t feel like a tourist, you feel like you live here.
Is this your first time in New York?
It is my first time in the States, never mind in New York. It’s great. I’ll be coming back. Maybe not professionally, but who knows.
How has this experience been different from your previous runs with the show?
The play is a bit shorter. We’ve calibrated the accents ever so slightly, taken a few of the vernaculars and slang words out. There’s no point in putting a play on if people have to spend the whole play thinking, “What, what?”
Video: Christopher Connel recalls a traffic-delayed performance and onstage mistakes.