Backstairs Billy with Luke Evans and Penelope Wilton – in rehearsals

Take an exclusive look at Evans and Wilton in rehearsals

Luke Evans and Penelope Wilton in rehearsals
Luke Evans and Penelope Wilton, © Johan Persson

Rehearsal images have been revealed for the world premiere of Marcelo Dos Santos’ play Backstairs Billy, exploring a significant moment in the 50-year relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant, William “Billy” Tallon.

Leading the show are Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy, joined by Emily Barber (Annabel Maud/Lady Astlebury) who reunites with Evans after The Alienist, Iwan Davies (Gwydion), Ian Drysdale (Kerr), Ilan Galkoff (Young Billy), Eloka Ivo (Ian), Michael Simkins (Mr Harrington-Bahr/Hugo McCoyd), Nicole Sloane (Mrs Harrington-Bahr/Lady Adeline), with David Buttle, Amy Newton, Keanu Adolphus Johnson, Georgie Rhys, and Jacob Ethan Tanner.

Michael Grandage’s production is set to open at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 7 November, with previews starting on 27 October and running until 27 January. In line with the company’s ongoing commitment to accessibility in the West End, £10 tickets will be available for every performance throughout the run.

The production marks a reunion between Grandage and Wilton, who previously collaborated on productions including The Chalk Garden, John Gabriel Borkman, and Hamlet. Additionally Evans performed twice at the Donmar during Grandage’s artistic directorship, in Small Change and Piaf. Dos Santos was a recipient of the MGCfutures Bursary in 2019, a charity established by Grandage to support various aspects of the theater industry. Following their introduction through the bursary program, MGC commissioned Dos Santos to write Backstairs Billy.

The creative team also includes set designer Christopher Oram, costume designers Oram and Tom Rand, lighting designer Ryan Day, music and sound designer Adam Cork, wigs, hair and makeup designer Carole Hancock, casting director Jacob Sparrow, associate director Sophie Drake, and costume supervisor Mary Charlton.

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Backstairs Billy

Final performance: 27 January 2024