I first saw Welsh actress Aimée-Ffion Edwards in Jez Butterworth’s outstanding play Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Ave. The play opened at the downstairs theatre of London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2009 to rave reviews. It starred Mark Rylance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, a modern day Pied Piper and Mackenzie Crook as Ginger, an aspiring DJ and unemployed plasterer.
The title is based on a short a short poem ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ by William Blake, best known as the anthem ‘Jerusalem’ with music written by Hubert Parry in 1916.
Jerusalem along with most of the original cast, including Aimée-Ffion, transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in 2010 before its Broadway run in 2011 followed by a London revival later that year, again at the Apollo. It won multiple awards, including the Olivier and Tony.
Aimee-Ffion played Phaedra, the stepdaughter of local thug Troy Whitworth who goes missing in the play. She is seen at the beginning of both Act One and Two singing the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ dressed in fairy wings, which was the basis for this sketch which she signed for me at the Apollo Stage door.
Bond girl and BAFTA nominated Brit actress Gemma Arterton is currently on stage playing Rita O’Grady, the lead in the new musical Made in Dagenham which started previews earlier this month and opens at London’s Adelphi Theatre on 5 November.
Based on the film of the same name, it tells the story of sexual discrimination at the Ford car plant in Dagenham, Essex and the 1968 sewing machinists’ strike in which 850 female workers took on the might of the motoring giant and the corruption of the union supposed to protect them.
Directed by Olivier Award winner Rupert Goold, it is written by Richard Bean with music by Bond composer David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas.
Gemma has always been very generous with signing my theatre drawings, from The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick, The Master Builder at the Almeida, and The Duchess of Malfi at the Globe. However, after the first Saturday evening performance of Dagenham, the large gathering of ‘graphers at the stage door were told, “programmes and tickets only”.
This was the first time I had sketched Gemma in lead – previously only in ink in various applications – so I was keen to have it signed. True to form, she did make an execption for the sketch and signed it for me. If the audience are anything to go by, the show will be a smash hit. It is booked to run until March next year.
This is another one of those sketches that I’ve carried around in my folder ‘just in case’. Obviously in this case, in case I bump into Brad Pitt. I can’t remember when I did it and could probably draw a better and more updated one, but for some reason I liked it and thought it captured him at the time whenever that was. A few ‘just in case’ moments arrived and went without success, until yesterday at the final night gala screening of his latest film, the WWII epic Fury at the BFI London Film Festival in Leicester Square, London.
As expected he generously signed for the entire line, which was immense given his popularity. This time I managed to get to the front line (appropriate given the film’s genre) near the drop off point. As with his ‘graphs at the World War Z premiere (the ones I saw, but didn’t manage to get!), Brad’s taken to signing in a large spirit based calligraphic marker to ‘draw’ his distinctive BP monogram. He apologised for not dedicating, “just too many to do,” but gave a nod of approval for the sketch.
I said to a fellow front liner next to me, “it’s a long day for one sig,” to which he replied, “it’s even longer if you don’t get one.”
In 2011 four time BAFTA nominee Anne-Marie Duff played Alma Rattenbury in Terrance Rattigan’s final play Cause Célèbre at London’s Old Vic directed Thea Sharrock.
It was part of the centenary celebrations for the acclaimed English playwright. Originally staged in London in 1977, just a few months before the dramatist’s death, the courtroom drama is based on the famous case of Alma Rattenbury who was charged in 1935, together with her teenage lover, with the murder of her husband who had been bludgeoned to death. It is structurally daring, mixing the traditional conventions of courtroom drama with flashbacks.
“Anne-Marie Duff is electrifying in this terrific revival” wrote Charles Spencer in his four star Telegraph review.
British actor Nigel Lindsay played the title role in the original production of Shrek The Musical which opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 14 June 2011. He finished in February 2012, earning nominations for both the Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage Awards for Best Actor in a Musical.
The previous year he won the latter for Best Supporting Actor as Dr Harry Hyman in Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass at the Tricylcle Theatre in London.
To play the grumpy Socttish ogre Shrek, Nigel had to spend 90 minutes before each performance having a prosthetic make up applied. There was also a touch of the Time Lord in his voice – he asked his mate David Tennant to help him out with this delivery – a cross between Kenny Dalglish and the former Dr Who. David said if he did Kenny no one would understand him, Nigel responded that, “yeah, but you’re too fey” so David ‘butched’ it up for him.
Nigel’s currently playing Charlie Fox in David Mamet’s Speed the Plow at London’s The Playhouse where he signed my sketch last night.
Ian Thorpe is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. Predominantly a freestyler, he won five Olympic gold medals, the most won by any Australian. He was the highest achieving athlete at the 2000 games in Sydney with 3 golds and 2 silvers.
AT the 2001 World Aquatics Championships he became the first person to win six gold medals in one meet. In total he has won eleven World Golds, the second highest of any swimmer. Three years later at the Athens Olympics he won the 200m and 400m freestyle titles.
He attracted a legion of viewers for his gentle admonishments and thoughtful insights as a swimming pundit for the BBC during the 2012 London Olympics and Australia’s Channel 10 at this years Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. One reporter label him the “philosopher King of the BBC sofa”. He refused to give pat answers and has a dry wit. When a fellow commentator said, “unlucky lane five”, he deadpanned, “there is water in every lane, so it is ok”.
Ian retired in 2006, but returned to swimming with the aim of making the Australian team for the London Olympics. He competed at the Olympic trials but missed out. A shoulder injury scuttled plans to target qualification for the World Champs in Barcelona and this year’s Glasgow Games. He did however make it to Scotland in his commentary capacity and signed my sketch.
One of the most anticipated productions of 2009 was the stage version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, featuring Anna Friel as Holly Golightly and Joseph Cross as her neighbour William Parsons. It was the role that established Audrey Hepburn as a glamour icon and arguably Capote’s most famous character.
He wanted Marilyn Monroe for the 1961 Hollywood film, and hated Hepburn in the part. In fact, he hated the whole film. He called it, “a mawkish Valentine to New York City… thin and pretty where as it should have been rich and ugly!” The stage version is considered a closer adaption of the book.
The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer gave the production four stars. “This is the sexiest performance I have seen on stage since Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room… Friel creates a thrilling frisson of eroticism.”
The production opened on the 29th of September, concluding on 9th January 2010. Both Anna and Joseph signed my quick black biro sketch in the final week.