Stand-up comedian, actor and writer Tiff Stevenson’s latest show OPTIMIST was performed at last years Edinburgh Fringe. Reviewing it, GiggleBeats Hilary Wardle said,”Tiffany Stevenson looks rather angelic with her blonde hair and shimmering blue-green dress, but the minute she opens her mouth you realise she’s just the opposite. She’s a brash, complex, unhinged demon woman and she knows it”.
Tiff hit the Fringe circuit in 2006 with the lead role in the Eric Bogosian play TALK RADIO and has continued at Edinburgh with solo shows, including UNCOMFORTABLY NUMB, CAVEWOMAN, DICTATORS and ALONG CAME A SPIDER, playing to packed houses and rave reviews. She actually began her career in entertainment onscreen in THE OFFICE and in the indie feature SPINNING CANDYFLOSS and even appeared in Dizzie Rascal’s DIRTEE CASH vid. Her other TV credits include NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS, ONLY JOKING, CELEBRITY DEAL OR NO DEAL and SHOW ME THE FUNNY, performing in the live final at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
Tiff signed this sketch at the Soho Theatre after performing OPTIMIST, which she is currently touring with dates listed on her website.
The smash hit play, King Charles III, Mike Barlett’s mock Shakespearean play about a constitutional crisis when Charles succeeds his mother after her death. Time called it a “future history play”.
Directed by Rupert Goold, the pitch perfect production premiered at London’s Almeida Theatre on 10 April 2014, before transferring to Wyndham’s in the West End for a short sell out run late last year.
“It won’t blow the palace sky high. But it’s theatrical dynamite, nonetheless,” said Caroline McGinn in Time Out.
Lydia Wilson’s manipulating Duchess of Cambridge with a touch of Lady Macbeth puts pressure on Oliver Chris’s uncanny William to intervene in his father’s refusal to uphold Parliament’s decisions. Richard Goulding’s likeable and restless Harry falls in love with the liberating but ultimately unstable Jess, a punky republican art student played by Tafline Steen.
Closer – Patrick Marber’s study about the brutality of modern relationships, gets its first major revival at London’s Donmar Warehouse and has already sold out.
When it premiered at the National Theatre in London in 1997 and the Music Box Theatre on Broadway in 1999, Closer won Olivier, Evening Standard and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and was nominated for a Tony for Best Play.
Directed by David Leveaux, it stars Rufus Sewell, Nancy Carroll, Oliver Chris and Rachel Redford as the quartet caught up in “an agonised sexual and emotional square dance,” according to The Telegraph.
The Donmar website sums the play as: “Dan rescues Alice. Anna photographs Dan. Larry meets Anna online. Alice rescues Larry. This is London at the end of the twentieth century, where lives collide and fates change in an instant.”
According to the Evening Standard, Marber writes perceptively about our obsession with appearances, the perils of honesty and the damage we can do to others in the name of love. Holly Williams in the Independent summarises it as “hook ups, fuck ups and break ups”.
The cast all signed my sketch after Saturday’s matinée, Closer runs until 24 April 2015
Dracula! (Mr Swallow – The Musical) the hit new musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival transferred to London’s Soho Theatre last month and due to phenomenal demand has added extra shows, now running until 7 March 2015.
Written by the comically acclaimed character performer Nick Mohammed, this musical spoof follows the chaotic final dress rehearsal for the fictitious show Dracula, as his excitable alter ego, Mr Swallow in the title role, enters on roller staktes making strange demands and increasingly bizarre interpretations, like a “tin pot tyrant”. He is joined by three brilliant musical theatre actors; David Elms plays Joseph, the director who also plays Van Helsing; Kieran Hodgson is Jonathan Harker and Johanna Grace is his fiancée, Wilhamina, accompanied by a five piece band playing original compositions by Ollie Birch.
Nick graduated with a first in geophysics and commenced doctoral studies in seismology at Cambridge, but was caught in the glare of the Footlights Troupe and took up comedy instead. He is developing Mr Swallow as a TV vehicle.
I caught up briefly with Nick and the cast after Saturday’s evening performance where he and Joanna signed my sketch.
Dame Helen Mirren returned to the stage in June 2009 after a six year absence to play the title role in Jean Racine’s 1676(ish) tragedy Phèdre at London’s National Theatre.
In the absence of her royal husband Thésée King of Athens, his second wife Phèdre declares her love to Hippolyte (played by Dominic Cooper) the King’s son from a previous marriage.
Described by Michael Billington as a, “powerful and striking production,” Phèdre was directed by the National’s outgoing Director Sir Nicholas Hytner, from Ted Hughes’ gutsy free verse translation replacing Racine’s formal Alexandrine couplets on a vast, stark palace veranda stage under the hard Mediterranean sunlighitng.
On 25 June the play was filmed and broadcast live to over 70 cinemas across the UK and subsequently screened “as live” in over 280 cinemas across the world as part of the NT Live Project.
Always a great signer, Dame Helen signed and happily dedicated this black biro Phèdre portrait montage in person at the European Premiere of Brighton Rock at London’s West End Odeon in February 2011.
Gemma Arterton has always been fan friendly and has signed a number of my sketches over the years at premieres and stage doors. She is currently starring as Rita O’Grady in Made In Dagenham – the stage musical about the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 concerning equal pay for women at London’s Adelphi Theatre.
I had drawn this montage of Gemma from her roles in the films Runner Runner and Byzantium some time ago and had it in my folder, I just so happened to be passing the Adelphi stage door last week when she emerged from and veining performance to catch up with the gathered admirers. I waited, then asked her if she wouldn’t mind signing the drawing, which she was happy to do.
I finally got the brilliant John Lithgow to sign a sketch for me.
The New York-born 69 year-old has appeared in more than 30 films, with two Oscar nominations and an equally impressive television list that includes the Emmy-award winning 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN and DEXTER.
John’s distinguished stage career has spanned over four decades on both sides of the Atlantic. His 1973 Broadway debut in David Storey’s THE CHANGING ROOM earned him the Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He won his second Tony for his portrayal of J.J Hunsecker in the Broadway adaption of the 1957 film SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS in 2002.
During the winter of 2012/13 John crossed the ditch to appear on the London stage as the title character, police magistrate Aeneas Posket in the National Theatre’s revival of Arthur Pinero’s THE MAGISTRATE. I was lucky enough to catch a saturday matinee.
The following summer he retuned to New York and the Delacorte stage in Central Park’s Public Theatre’s production of KING LEAR, where he last appeared in 1975 in the role of Laertes in HAMLET. John listed playing ‘Lear’ at the top of his bucket list..”so there’s an empty space there now.” he quipped.
When asked what he disliked most about his appearance, John replied, “I have a love/hate relationship with my height-I am 6 foot 4 inches.”
John signed this sketch depicting his stage appearances in THE MAGISTRATE and KING LEAR at the John Golden Theatre in New York where he has just finished the limited season of Edward Albee’s A DELICATE BALANCE alongside Glenn Close. He actually dedicated it ‘To Mark’,but my letter must have been under the drawing because the inscription was written on the top of it with the most important sig on the sketch.