“The Pitmen Painters” opened September 30 at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Inspired by a book by William Feaver, the play...

The Pitmen Painters” opened September 30 at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Inspired by a book by William Feaver, the play tells the real-life story of the Ashington Group, miners in 1930s England who became recognized as accomplished artists while continuing to work in the mines. Part of the charm of “Pitmen” is the projection of some of the real miners’ original works throughout the play.

Playwright Lee Hall is well-known for another Broadway hit which he penned: the acclaimed “Billy Elliot,” playing at the Imperial Theatre.

“Pitmen” is moving to Broadway from its origins in a 200-seat theater in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where it began running three years ago. Max Roberts directs with the original cast making their Broadway debut: Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson, with contributions by Jack Koenig, Trevor Fox and Christa Scott-Reed.

The 650-seat Friedman Theatre hosted two weeks of previews beginning September 14, with capacity ranging from 74 to 85 percent during that time. Regular ticket prices range from $57 up to $116. Gross ticket sales were $200,807 for the week ending September 26, according to numbers from the Broadway League.

This is a limited 12-week engagement that runs only through December 12, 2010. Evening performances are scheduled Tuesday and Sunday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Beginning October 5, the play will change to a more typical Broadway schedule, with evening shows on Tuesday at 7p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and matinees offered on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Friedman Theatre is located at 261 West 47th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue in New York, NY. “Pitmen” runs two hours and 30 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission. Scheduling and ticketing details are available on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “Pitmen Painters”

Publication Critic Review
Variety Marilyn Stasio “…a feel-good — make that a feel-great — hit…”
New York Times Ben Brantley “…often feels like the work of an intelligent and virtuously self-conscious teacher, determined to present all sides of an argument.”
Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck “Expertly acted by the ensemble and evocatively directed by Max Roberts.”
TheaterMania David Finkle “…the eight-member acting contingent…make a story that could feel very distant hit completely close to home.”
New York Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz “Director Max Roberts’ assured staging is crisp and clean, with noisy blackouts that are reminders of the men’s dangerous, backbreaking jobs.”
New York Post Elizabeth Vincentelli “But while there’s no denying that this play…will warm your cockles, it’s also smart and inspirational in a way that never panders to the audience.”