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, is to get a 25th anniversary production in London.
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.
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 cast includes Mitchell Hunt (Mr Selfridge, Hollyoaks) as William “Billy” Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields.
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!”