Final casting is announced today for 25th-anniversary production in London of The Tailor-Made Man, the powerful true story about the Hollywood studio system and its hypocrisy and the star who gave up everything for the man he loved.
William “Billy” Haines was a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was gay and refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri. As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed. It was an attempt to erase him completely from movie history. But Billy and Jimmy’s turbulent, passionate love affair was to survive and lasted over 50 years…this is their story.
Joining the previously announced Mitchell Hunt (Mr Selfridge, Hollyoaks) as William “Billy” Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields, are:
Peter Dewhurst (Irving) His recent roles include Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest (Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe) and Adam, in AI Love You (Theatre N16).
Henry Felix (Victor Darro) is a recent graduate from the Royal Central School of Drama. He recently finished filming a role for ITV and appeared in The Devils at (Embassy Theatre),
Edwin Flay (Howard) recently appeared in a revival of The House (Bread and Roses, Clapham) and as Lefroy in The Brighton Killers.
Dean Harris (Louis B. Mayer) was Kemp in Entertaining Mr Sloane (Theatre Royal, Bath, UK tour and Arts Theatre, West End), McFee, Jumpers, (National Theatre), Judas in Godspell (West End).
Rachel Knowles (Carole Lombard/ Pola Negri) was first cover and played Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (no1 UK tour & Playhouse Theatre, West End), Mrs Lockwood, Mrs Lester, understudied and played Joyce Chilvers in Betty Blue Eyes (UK Tour), Anne in Target Practice (Old Red Lion).
Yvonne Lawlor (Marion) is a recent graduate of Rose Bruford College. She has just appeared in Catch (Camden Fringe).
REHEARSAL PHOTOS show the cast from the 25th-anniversary production in London of The Tailor-Made Man, the powerful true story about the Hollywood studio system and its hypocrisy and the star who gave up everything for the man he loved.
The Tailor-Made Man, by Claudio Macor, directed by Bryan Hodgson, will run at the White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 from Tuesday 7 November to Saturday 25 November.
Press night is Thursday November 9 at 7.30pm
The Tailor-Made Man is produced by Eastlake Productions.
Claudio Macor said: “Thirty years ago a friend gave me a copy of Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon. As I was reading the various Hollywood scandals Kenneth Anger so vividly described I came across “The White Legion and the Purple Poodle” and discovered the story of William “Billy” Haines and Jimmie Shields. I was still acting at the time and dreamed of playing Billy but soon fell out of love with acting when I started writing. The Tailor-Made Man play premiered in London at the Hen and Chickens in 1992, it quickly got a transfer to the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) to be followed by a TV showcase by Thames Television, who were were planning to bring back Masterpiece Theatre. The Tailor-Made Man” was chosen to be one of the six initial episodes but then Thames lost their ITV franchise. The play was then performed on Freedom Radio with Broadway star Robert Bogue as Billy and Oscar-nominated Judd Hirsch as Louis B Mayer, and had successful runs in San Diego and West Hollywood. It received another London run at the Cockpit Theatre before its off-Broadway run at Centre Stage New York. It was turned into a musical in 2013 at London’s Arts Theatre. This revival of the original play at the White Bear Theatre is the 25th year anniversary production. It’s actually 25 years and 25 days since the first performance!”
William “Billy” Haines
Charles William “Billy” Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), known professionally as William Haines, was discovered by a talent scout and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1922. His career gained momentum when he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures where he received favourable reviews for his role in The Midnight Express. Haines returned to MGM and was cast in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard. The role solidified his screen persona as a wisecracking, arrogant leading man. By the end of the 1920s, Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box office draw. But his career was cut short by the 1930s due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality. Billy’s fate has played a huge part in preventing movie stars from coming out to this very day. Box Office is routinely used as the excuse but the real reason is the fear of annihilation that Billy suffered. With Jimmie’s help Billy then forged a spectacular career as an interior designer to the stars, Presidents and ambassadors. His interior design career eclipsed his film career. Billy and Jimmie were together for over 50 years and lived like a modern day gay couple, from the 20’s to the 70’s this was achievable only in Hollywood. They were often quoted as the “happiest married couple in Hollywood” What makes this story stand out from other Hollywood stories is the sheer determination Billy had in succeeding in his design business. A business that is still active today and his shop is still open in the same location in West Hollywood and of course the love story, after all it is Hollywood greatest love story. He died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.
Claudio Macor – playwright
Bryan Hodgson – director
THE TAILOR-MADE MAN
W hite Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Road
Tuesday 7 November to Saturday 25 November.