Kristin Scott Thomas plays Sophocles’ avenging heroine Electra in the title role at London’s Old Vic.
It reunites Kristin Scott Thomas with director Ian Rickson after a string of great collaborations, including the award-winning 2007 revival of The Seagull at the Royal Court. The stage is set in-the-round, as it has been all year at the theatre. Frank McGuinness adapted this retelling of the 2,500 year old classic Greek tragedy of a daughter’s grief over her father’s death, consumed by a desire for revenge against his murderers, her mother and stepfather. An added bonus is the music of PJ Harvey.
The BBC News reported “Kristin Scott Thomas thrills critics at the Old Vic”. With a clutch of five star reviews, the idiom “kill for a ticket triumph” has been used.
The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish called Kristin’s performance a, “tour de force,” and said, “… within 90 minutes or so, the erstwhile screen goddess propels herself into the first rank of theatrical titans”.
Phil Taylor in The Independent said Kristin was, “excruciatingly good,” and The Telegraph’s Tim Walker (my favourite London critic) said, “Kristin Scott Thomas’ performance of raw human intensity makes this production unforgettable. This is unquestionably the Old Vic at its very best.”
In 2011 Trevor Nunn directed a West End revival of Terrance Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of the playwright’s centenary year celebrations.
The story involves a love triangle between a pilot, his actress wife and a famous film star set in a hotel near an RAF Bomber Command airbase during WWII.
Universally acclaimed by the critics as a superb production, the were equally in agreement that Sheridan Smith stole the show. A major subplot involves her character Doris, a former barmaid who is married to and totally devoted to a Polish Count flying with the RAF.
She has the rare claim of winning Olivier Awards two years running followed by a BAFTA. Her second Olivier won for Flare Path. Sheridan is always generous with her time at the stage door where she signed this black biro sketch.
In July 2006 Kerry Ellis joined the original London cast of the musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, playing the role of Elphaba the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. She was temporary understudy to Idina Menzel for three months, replacing her and winning the 2008 WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award. She continues the role until June 2008, before transferring to the Broadway production of Wicked, where her five month run won her the 2009 Broadway Audience Award for Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance. Kerry returned to the London show for a further five months until May 2009.
In 2013 she was named the favourite West End ‘Elphaba’ in the WhatsOnStage.com poll. Not yet done with the role, Kerry has just completed a limited 12 week engagement replacing an injured Willemijn Verkaik the London’s Apollo Victoria where she kindly signed my sketch before her final performance.
Mackenzie Crook is probably best known from TV’s The Office and Game of Thrones, or as Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean Films.
A fellow illustrator and cartoonist, but it was his comedy sketches that dictated his career more. He wanted to be a graphic artist, but after being turned down three times by the Kent Institute of Art & Design he became a comedian alongside Iain Lee as ‘the cheeky, chirpy, chappy Charlie Cheese from Chorley’.
It was his stage work that gave me the opportunity to meet him. He received rave reviews as Ginger in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem which transferred from London’s Royal Court Theatre in August 2009 to the Apollo in the West End before a stint on Broadway where he was nominated for the Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
I drew this minimal line sketch of Mackenizie and met him at the Apollo stage door, where his sketches illustrated the Jerusalem programme. I gave him a copy of this sketch, which he then asked me to sign – a first for a sig-seeking-sketching-stalker.
As a teenager he inherited a rare breeding pair of Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises, leading to a hobby of breeding chelonians (the scientific name for turtles and the such like). I used to have a turtle called Algernon or ‘Algae’ for short cos he was green! Another conversation point, but that’s another story. He did uses his turtles in the play!
The Lord of the Dance – Michael Flatley returned to the West End with Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games for a limited run at London’s Palladium from early September until Saturday night, but will by popular demand transfer to the Dominion in March next year following a world tour. It features new staging, costumes and choreography of the original masterpiece directed and choreographed by Michael who is not scheduled to appear at this stage in the 2015 version. He signed this pencil sketch for me at the Palladium.
Eugene O’Neill’s epic Pulitzer Award-winning play Anna Christie, about love and forgiveness charts one woman’s longing to forget the dark secrets of her past as she is reunited with her father, an old Scandinavian salt who had exiled her fifteen years earlier.
Winner of the Olivier Award for Best Revival, Rob Ashford’s nautically realistic production played London’s Donmar Warehouse in the late summer of 2011 with Jude Law and Ruth Wilson in the lead roles.
Michael Billington in his Guardian review said, “The acting matches the production’s visual power. Ruth Wilson, following in the footsteps of Greta Garbo on screen and Natasha Richardson on stage… capturing with seeming effortlessness the contradiction inside Anna. Law, in the best performance I’ve seen him give is also excellent as the brawny lover… conveys muscular innocence of a man who has a rolling nautical gait… “
Both Jude and Ruth were nominated for Oliviers with Ruth winning her second, having previously picked up the award for Best Supporting Actress as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire also at the Donmar. This black biro sketch as based on rehearsal shots for the play which Ruth and Jude kindly signed for me.
Zizi Strallen, the third of the extraordinary Strallen sisters said in a recent interview “we have this thing that’s in the Strallen blood”. She describes herself on Twitter as: “Aka Sylphide. Sister, lover, comedienne, daughter, actress, fighter, friend, dreamer, writer … In no particular order!”
Zizi is currently on the UK tour of Cats playing the role of Demeter, which will take up residence at London’s Palladium Theatre over Christmas. Her parents Cherida and Sandy Strallen both performed in the original production of Cats.
I drew this quick portrait of Zizi which she signed after a performance as Meg in Merrily We Roll Along in the West End transfer at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the summer of 2013.