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.
Summer Strallen is the second of the four hugely talented Strallen sisters. She has been nominated for four Olivier Awards. One was for her performance as Meg Giry in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera at the Adelphi Theatre.
It was a role that won her the Broadwayworld.com UK Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and she was also nominated for the Whatsonstage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
I did this black biro sketch during Summer’s season as Meg which ran through 2010 and early into 2011, which she signed at the stage door.
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.