Drawing: Summer Strallen

Summer Strallen

Winter is starting to bite here in the UK so why not post a little bit of Summer with a quick sketch of one of  the immensely talented Strallen sisters. Summer was headlining with Tom Chambers in TOP HAT at London’s Aldwych Theatre in the summer of 2012 when I did this ‘lineal shorthand’ sketch of her, which some would say was a visual metaphor for our British summers – bright but quick!

Drawing: Kara Tointon in Absent Friends

Kara Tointon Absent Friends

It’s not my birthday, but it is nearly Christmas…. faint reason to post this today, but I liked it and the lovely Kara Tointon. Vaguely interestingly enough this is the only drawing signed on my actual birthday, which is in April. Kara was appearing in Alan Ayckbourne’s ABSENT FRIENDS at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2012 and I was getting a cast sketch signed at the same time.

One of the other collectors happened to mention it was their birthday that day and were given tickets to see the play. Heaven knows why I piped up and said it was mine as well and I only have this sketch. But I did. She was signing it at the time and wrote this message on it.

Drawing: Kristin Scott Thomas

Kristin Scott Thomas

As you may have realised drawing sketches and then getting them signed takes time. Hanging around stage doors in all weather conditions is part of the package. There are a variety of things one can do to pass the time, not all of them worthwhile. Sometimes I get out my little A5 Ryman’s sketch pad and start employing my trusty 4B clutch pencil.

On one such occasion on a balmy summer’s evening, while waiting for Kristin Scott Thomas, Lia Williams and Rufus Sewell to emerge after a performance of BETRAYAL at the Comedy Theatre to sign a cast drawing, I drew this quick portrait of Kristin… manners, Dame Kristin, although she wasn’t a Dame then in 2011. She kindly signed and dedicated both renderings for me.

Sketch: Nicole Kidman in Photo 51

kidman photo 51

“The instant I saw the photograph my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race.”
This is the second drawing I did of Nicole Kidman as scientist Rosalind Franklin who cracked the DNA code in Anna Ziegler’s PHOTOGRAPH 51, which has just completed its run at London’s Noel Coward Theatre. Her much anticipated return to the West End won her the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress at this week’s award ceremony.

As you can imagine large crowds gathered after each evening performance for Nicole so it was a bit of a mission to get near let alone get anything signed. She was very accommodating but her signature was mostly the quick abbreviated version which is better than nothing at all.

Drawing: Jenny Galloway

Madame Thenadier Jenny GallowayThe wonderful Jenny Galloway is currently  playing Mrs G in the West End transfer of MR FOOTE’S OTHER LEG at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The double Lawrence Olivier Award winner’s character, Mrs Garner was described by The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish as a ‘fibbertigibbet’… a word that had not registered in my vocabulary bank until now. It is a Middle English word for a ‘flighty or whimsical person’ or in more contemporary times, slang for ‘gossipy or over-talkative’.

Jenny’s long and distinguished stage career includes the role of Madame Thenardier in LES MISERABLES on both the West End and Broadway boards and the 10th and 25th Anniversary performances. She can also be heard on the cast recording of the show as well as OLIVER!, MAMMA MIA! and MARY POPPINS.

Jenny’s versatility came to the fore at the Haymarket stage door in the pouring rain a few nights ago when I asked her to sign this sketch. I held the drawing and she worked the sharpie pen while holding my umbrella… a real trooper, as they say in show business and not a drop of H2O on the paper.

Drawing: Mr Foote’s Other Leg

Mr Foote's Other Leg

Thanks to the kindness of our friends Richard and Graham, Frankie and I enjoyed an excellent evening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket a couple of weeks ago to see one of the best plays in the West End at the moment, MR FOOTE’S OTHER LEG.

With the brilliant Simon Russell Beale in the lead role as the trailblazing Georgian actor,playwright, theatre manager, cross-dressing comic and ‘consummate wag’ Samuel Foote, supported by an equally brilliant cast including Dervla Kirwan, Joseph Milson and Micah Balfour the entertainment of the highest order was assured.

Ian Kelly’s play, based on the biography of the same name premiered at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year under the direction of Richard Eyre, before transferring, appropriately to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the very venue that Foote owned, securing the Royal patent. Described as the ‘Oscar Wilde of the 18th Century’, Samuel Foote lost a leg to a riding accident, but didn’t lose his desire to stay on stage. “The show must hop on!”  His name fitted (oh the irony!) his fate.

He became more reckless and his entrepreneur career abruptly ended with accusations of sodomy. This sketch featuring Simon, Dervla, Joseph and Micah was baptized with London’s autumnal rains as I managed to get all four to sign it after two attempts at the uncovered stagedoor. Obviously Mr Foote didn’t think of us graphemes back in his day.

Drawing: Roger Federer, The Fed


Last but by no means least on my series from this week’s ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena is the arguably the greatest player of all time, the one and only Roger Federer.

Although losing to Novak Djokovic in last night’s final, he did beat the World #1 three times this year, including a comprehensive victory in pool play at this year’s event. At 34 he shows no signs of slowing up ,in fact quite the opposite and will start the 2016 season in third spot, hoping to add to his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

Former World #1 Jimmy Connors summed up Roger’s status,”In an era of specialists, you either have a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer.”

That’s enough about the great man, what about his weapon? He plays with a Wilson Prostaff RF97 Autograph, 97 square inch racquet with a 21.5 mm beam, weighing 360g with a 331 swing weight and 16 x 9 string pattern, strung with over grip. When I caught up with him at the O2 before last nights final, the uber-cool and relaxed, designer-stubbled Swiss superstar, the only part of the racquet specs he had with him was his autograph which he signed on this sketch for me.