The Broadway musical juggernaut The Book Of Mormon rolled into London’s West End last month and has been doing the ‘biz’ ever since. Written by South Park‘s Matt Stone and Trey Parker and winner of 9 Tony Awards, the show opened to mixed reviews by the British critics, but the public have taken to it in droves. Tickets are scarce, but we managed to grab a few on Red Nose gala night, with all the profits from that performance going to Comic Relief.
Transferring from the US National Tour are American leads Gavin Creel (Elder Price) and Jared Gertner (Elder Cunningham). London’s own Alexia Khadime plays the lead female role – Nabulungi.
Fresh from the role of Eponine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, Alexia’s pedigree includes Elphaba in Wicked and Nala in The Lion King.
A few years back a drew this sketch of mime artist Marcel Marceau. Unfortunately, he died before I was able to send it to him for signing. I do have his autograph on the back of a Polaroid, though, which includes a drawing of his famous hat:
Glasgow-born James McAvoy has just completed the lead role in a sell out season of ‘the Scottish play’, with English actress Claire Foy as Lady Macbeth.
After an eighty day run as London’s Trafalgar Studios, James goes straight into filming the next instalment of X Men alongside the two Knights, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who have both also starred as the murdering Scot. James commented that it would be fun having three Macbeths in the one place “We might have a Macbeth-off – my Macbeth’s better than your Macbeth!”
The production received rave reviews, but the interaction with the audience didn’t always go to script. He suddenly stopped mid-scene when someone in the front was filming with his mobile phone. He refused to continue with the play until the device was firmly put away. James also stopped in the middle of the climatic sword fight to help an audience member who had collapsed. He called for help, cracked a joke or two, then continued the scene with the same intensity, according to one witness who tweeted the event. On another occasion, he told two drunk women who kept talking through the early scenes to “shut up”. They eventually complied and later fell asleep.
When he signed my sketch, going in for the Friday evening’s performance, he was telling the gathered ‘graphers that he had injured an eye and his hand due to the intense physicality of the play. Luckily it was his left hand, so he could still sign!
I left this drawing of Prunella Scales at the stage door of the Apollo Theatre, London, where she was performing Carrie’s War in July 2009. It was returned to me, signed, through the mail.
I also received my Connie Booth sketch signed back through the mail. She now works as a psychotherapist in London, after ending her acting career in 1995. I sent the sketch to her North London clinic. She very rarely signs, and had declined to talk about Fawlty Towers for 30 years until she had agreed to participate in a documentary about the series in 2009, so I was very happy to get it back signed and dedicated.
Back in New Zealand in 2005 John Cleese premiered his latest stage show John Cleese—His Life, Times and Current Medical Problems at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill. This is my cartoon, published in The Southland Times to commemorate the occasion, and John was lovely enough to sign it for me and write a short note.
KRAPP’S LAST TAPE is a one-act play for one actor by Samuel Beckett. I first saw it performed by John Hurt at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London in March, 2000. It’s genre is described as ‘minimalist monodrama’. It’s Krapp’s 69th birthday and he hauls out his old tape recorder, listens to a recording he did 30 years earlier, before making a new one.
Sir Michael Gambon performed a revival at the Duchess Theatre in October 2010.