All-Star Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth Musical Opens in London

While Henry's career soared Barbara chipped away...

Gwyneth Herbert performing in an earlier production of
Gwyneth Herbert performing in an earlier production of <Springtime for Henry (and Barbara)
Photo: courtesy Herbert and Brimfield
A scene from

A scene from Springtime for Henry (and Barbara).
Photo: courtesy Herbert and Brimfield.

Sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth may not sound like the easiest personalities for a musical production, but artist Mel Brimfield and jazz singer and songwriter Gwyneth Herbert are convinced this isn’t the case. The duo has joined forces to bring the story of the artists’ friendship to the London stage.

Springtime for Henry (and Barbara) (2016), the second of three chapters, will be performed by an all-star cast, including Tony Award winner Frances Ruffelle as Hepworth, and Olivier Award nominee Andrew C. Wadsworth as Moore.

While Moore was heralded as breakthrough genius from a young age, it took Hepworth longer to establish herself. The two artists first met at the Royal Academy of Art in London, where they were both enrolled, and quickly became friends—and rivals.

Staged as documentary based on a lost musical of the story, the production draws on the complex history of the two art world figures. Herbert and Brimfield painstakingly spliced together events from the artist’s lives to create a screenplay that although is fictional, bares some relation to real events. The musical numbers were composed after extensive research of the archives at the Henry Moore Institute and the Hepworth Museum.

Gwyneth Herbert performing in an earlier production of

Gwyneth Herbert performing in an earlier production of Springtime for Henry (and Barbara).
Photo: courtesy Herbert and Brimfield.

“Alongside the intense immersive research phases of the project, the production chapters so far have been dizzying ‘make-athons’ occasionally bordering on farce,” said Herbert of the project to artnet News while rehearsing the play.

Those attending the musical can expect singing sculptures and catchy show tunes, along with an art history lesson.

This is terrible news for the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones, who wrote last year in a review that the two artists were merely “provincial powerhouses” and were not deserving of special acclaim.

Springtime for Henry (and Barbara) is on at Wilton’s Music Hall on January 26 & 27.


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