A trans actress has been cast as the lead in a new musical adaptation of The Danish Girl, which tells the real life story of Lili Elbe.
L Morgan Lee will lead workshops of the New Theatre Peterborough musical from 26 to 30 April, while Jake and Hannah Graf have joined as consultants on the project.
The musical tells the story of Lili, a Danish painter, who became one of the first people in the world to undergo gender affirmation surgery.
Written by Katie Lam and Alex Parker, the musical adaptation of The Danish Girl is based on a book by David Ebershoff. The story was previously made into a feature film in 2015, with Eddie Redmayne winning an Oscar nomination for his controversial performance as Lili.
“I never would have guessed, in the middle of a pandemic, I’d be in my apartment in New York on Zoom with a creative team in London discussing a new musical,” Lee said.
“I’ve dreamed of getting my hands on this kind of material in a show but the reality is Black women, and even more specifically Black, trans women are so rarely, if ever, even considered.
“This creative team has taken the time to truly see the artists they work with. They are committed to telling this story using not only a trans woman to play Lili but a variety of trans people in many of the other roles throughout the show with a cast that reflects the world we live in.”
Lee added: “The process has been such a testament to the potential of where our industry has the potential to go and I’m so honoured to be a part of that.”
The Danish Girl musical will tell a ‘joyful trans story’
Katie Lam said she and her co-writer Alex Parker decided to write the musical because Lili’s story spoke to them.
“Inspired by discussions with our consultants and casts, we are committed to telling a joyful trans story. Lili of course struggled through the traumas inherent in transition and did not survive her final operation.
“But for decades she was supported, accepted and loved by her wife, siblings, parents, friends and wider community. She found a surgeon who believed and understood her, and was able to make her emotional reality a physical reality; and all a hundred years ago.”
The musical is being made with funds from the Cultural Recovery Fund, a government initiative to support theatres, music venues cultural spaces during the coronavirus pandemic.
David Hutchinson, CEO of Selladoor Worldwide, which operates the New Theatre Peterborough, said he is “delighted” the musical will be workshopped after an “incredibly tough year” for the industry.
“At Selladoor we are committed to supporting new work and it’s an honour to be workshopping this amazing and important story with such a fantastic cast and creative team,” Hutchinson said.