Eleanor Worthington-Cox was one of the original four young actresses who rotated in the role of Matilda Wormwood in the hugely successful Matilda The Musical based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl. After the twelve week run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-Upon-Avon, it premiered on London’s West End on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre.
In 2012 it won a record seven Olivier Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical with the ‘Four Matildas’ – Eleanor, Cleo Demetriou, Sophia Kiely and Kerry Ingram – winning a coveted trophy each. Eleanor is the youngest recipient of the award at the age of 10, and was the Matilda when my wife and I saw the show.
She is currently playing Blousey Brown in Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith, where she signed this Matilda montage drawing. WIth such a long moniker her signature is rather compact and intricate.
Rising star of British Theatre Jade Anouka has just finished a three week run of her solo show Chef at London’s Soho Theatre.
Sabrina Mahfouz’s gripping 50 minute poetic monologue about one woman who went from being a haute-cuisine head-chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen made its London debut after a sensational season at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, winning the 2014 Fringe First Award.
“The combination of Mahfouz’s lyrical yet bruising writing and Anouka’s phenomenal performance is a winning one,” wrote The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner. Other critics have been equally full of praise, using adjectives such as “stunning”, “wonderful” and “extraordinary”.
I met the delightful Jade after her final matinée performance at the Soho on Saturday afternoon and she signed my sketch.
Laura Smithers was part of the accomplished ensemble lead by Clare Higgins and Greg Hicks in the world premiere of the dark comedy CLARION during its five-week run at the Arcola Theatre in East London earlier this year. Directed by Mehmet Ergen, it was former Fleet Street journo Mark Jagasia’s debut play about the current state of the British media, set in the offices of the UK’s worst newspaper, the ‘Daily Clarion’. A year after finishing her training at the Drama Studio of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, Laura won the role in this production of Pritti Singh, who she describes as “dim, ignorant,no social skills, but determined to claw her way to the top”.
CLARION is scheduled to return to the Arcola for a repeat season later this year.
Comedian and writer Jo Burke is a popular regular on the UK stand-up and Cabaret circuit as herself or her alter-ego characters, ‘Mary Magdalene’ and ‘Pie Shop Pat’. She previewed her new show ‘i Scream’ for the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival at London’s Leicester Square on Saturday evening. It’s a brutally honest account of her Edinburgh ‘mini-meltdown’ last year when she performed not one, but two shows. In spite of the exhausting stint both pieces received four-star reviews as has this one, so fingers crossed for a less stressful, but equally successful Festival this time round. I really liked her ‘iScream’ poster and based my sketch on it, which is inspired by the CARRIE film because “I love dark humour and my shows are always dark”, she said.
Simon Russell Beale is not only a great stage actor and an extremely pleasant chap to meet, he’s a brilliant subject to draw. Hence the frequency of my sketches of the man considered by many to be the best actor of his generation. This is in fact my second study of Simon as KING LEAR when he took to the vast Olivier stage at the National last Autumn in the exceptional Sam Mendes-directed production. This was the seventh Shakespearian collaboration for the actor-director combination. Jasper Kees commented in his article for The Telegraph that when classical actors play HAMLET , a clock starts ticking down to his LEAR with a decent hiatus in between. He lists such notables as Ian McKellen, with a 36 year gap, 32 for Jonathan Pryce and 31 for Derek Jacobi. For 52 year-old Simon it was 14 years and if it wasn’t for Sam’s commitment to SKYFALL and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY the gap would have been a lot less. however that hypothesis flies out the window when it was revealled that this is not Simon’s first LEAR. Oh no, he played the tragic monarch as a 17 year-old while still at Clifton College, so it’s a 35 year gap between LEARs for him, punctuated with a HAMLET.
That aside, I caught up with Simon to sign my sketch at the Donmar Warehouse after a Saturday evenings performance of TEMPLE in which he currently plays the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Steve Water’s new play inspired by the London Occupy Movement and the events surrounding the hallowed venue in October 2011. As usual he was very gracious and happily signed this version of LEAR, remembering the zillions of others he had also graphed.
Evelyn Hoskins took on the title role in the musical revival of Carrie, the role made famous by Sissy Spacek in the 1976 high school horror film at London’s Southwark Playhouse last month.
The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner wrote, “A mesmerising performance by Evelyn Hoskins as the flame haired teenage avenger fires this revival of the RSC’s slaughterhouse Cinderella”
The show has a notorious history. Eager to repeat the success of Les Miserables, the Royal Shakespeare Company produced a stage adaption of Stephen King’s novel and the iconic movie version by Brian De Palma. It opened in Stratford and then transferred to Broadway, failing in both.
This was the first London revival, returned, reworked, revised, rewritten and “reborn in style” wrote Rebecca Hawks in The Telegraph. The story’s simple – a high school misfit with an abusive and religious mother, uses telekinesis to punish her tormentors.
Director and choreographer Gary Lloyd said “Southwark developed a song reputation for making things work that didn’t originally.” And by all accounts he got it right, with enthusiastic support from critics and theatre goers alike. “The result is bloody marvellous in every sense” wrote Mark Shenton in London Theatre.
Not only did Evelyn suffer bullying and harassment by her school peers, and being drenched in stage blood nightly – twice on matinee days – she was subjected to signing my sketch. What some actors have to do for their art… and mine!