Drawing: Alexander Hanson, Charlotte Spencer and Charlotte Blackledge in Stephen Ward – The Musical

Stephen Ward

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and directed by Richard Eyre, Stephen Ward centres on the title character’s involvement with the young showgirl Christine Keeler that lead to one of the biggest scandals and most famous trials of the 20th century.

On the 50th anniversary, it deals with Ward as the ‘victim’ who was set up as a scapegoat when the scandal put the skids under Macmillan’s government in 1963. The Telegraph’s critic Charles Spencer suggests, “A show that may well play a part in the current campaign to quash the society osteopath’s trumped up conviction for living on immoral earnings.”

Alexander Hanson plays the charming and suave well connected bachelor Stephen Ward. Charlotte Spencer is the glamorous Keeler, and Charlotte Blackledge is her bubbly friend Mandy Rice-Davies.

The London wind and rain kindly subsided to allow the three leads to sign my sketch at the uncovered Aldwych stage door after last night’s performance.

Advertisements

Drawing: Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and David Hyde Pierce in La Bête

La bete001

American playwright David Hirson’s rollicking 1991 play La Bête is a comic tour de force involving Elomire (David Hyde Pierce), a hight-minded classical dramatist who loves only theatre, and Valere (Mark Rylance) a low-born street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Joanna Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s Royal Theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown.

La Bête completed its West End Season from June to August 2010 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter) before transferring to the Music Box Theatre for a limited two month run on Broadway in September/October that year.

All three stars signed my sketches at the Comedy Theatre in London.

La bete002

Drawing: Strangers On A Train starring Laurence Fox, Jack Huston, MyAnna Buring, Christian McKay and Miranda Raison

strangers on a train001

A ‘film noir’, live on stage. Robert Allan Ackerman’s stylish psychological crime thriller Strangers On A Train pays homage to Hollywood and heralds the successful return of the thriller to the West End.

Adapted by Craig Warner from Patricia Highsmith’s iconic 1950 novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s film version. The plot concerns two men that both have good reason to wish someone else dead. A seemingly innocent conversation soon turns into a nightmare for architect Guy Haines (Laurence Fox) when he meets Charles Bruno (Jack Huston) on a train journey. Over a bottle of whisky, Bruno suggests they should ‘exchange’ murders. Haines is trying to divorce his unfaithful wife (MyAnna Buring). Bruno hates his cruel father and wants an early inheritance.

Watertight alibis. No connection – the perfect criss cross crime. Except, when Bruno performs his side of what was never a real deal, it exposes the appalled Haines to the dangerous reality of blackmail and stalking.

Christian McKay plays the detective who sees through the flawed collusion; Miranda Raison plays the perfect Hitchcock blonde and Imogen Stubbs is the psychopath’s besotted mother. A swirling set constantly in motion, effortlessly changing locations and watch out for an impressive closing effect.

All the cast signed and inscribed the 4b pencil montage after Saturday’s matinee performance at the Gielgud Theatre London.

Drawing: Lesley Manville in Ghosts at Trafalgar Studios

Lesley Manville001

Director Richard Eyre’s acclaimed five star revival of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, starring Lesley Manville, transferred from London’s Almeida Theatre to Trafalgar Studio One this month and is scheduled to run early March 2014.

Richard, who was named Best Director at the recent Evening Standard Theatre Awards, adapted Ibsen’s text for the sold out production. Lesley was also nominated for Best Actress. Ghosts centres on Helene Alving (Lesley) who has spent her life suspended in an emotional void after the death of her cruel, but outwardly charming, husband. She is determined to escape the ghosts of her past by telling her son the truth about his father.

Lesley kindly signed my sketch at the Trafalgar Studios prior to Christmas.

Drawing: Ruby Turner

Ruby Turner001

The Jamaican born R&B and soul singer, songwriter and actress Ruby Turner left her Montego Bay home at the age of 9 and moved to England.

In February 1990 she achieved a rare feat for a British singer, reaching the number one spot on the US R&B charts with “It’s Gonna Be Alright”

Her most recent theatre appearance was the hugely successful run in London’s West End production of Simply Heavenly. The musical won several awards and was nominated for the Outstanding Musical at the 2005 Olivier Awards. She has also made numerous TV appearances, including the BBC drama Hotel Babylon in 2009.

I sent my sketch to Ruby at the Auckland Town Hall in New Zealand in March 1995, it was returned signed.

Drawing: Katie Melua

Katie Melua001

Blues and jazz singer songwriter Katie Melua was born in Georgia, but moved to Belfast in the aftermath of the Civil War, then to England at the age of fourteen. She was discovered by Mike Batt of ‘The Wombles’ fame, when he saw her at the Brit school for Performing Arts.

In 2006 she was the UK’s and Europe’s highest selling female artist. She has also appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse (2007). Katie signed my sketch in London in 2009.

Drawing: Henry Winkler as Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre

the fonz as hook001

How very cool… the Fonz – the coolest of the cool – signed my sketch. Henry Winkler AKA Arthur Fonzarelli from the hit TV series Happy Days is currently performing festive panto Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre in Surrey.

The Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actor reprises the role of Captain Hook. He appeared in his first pantomime at the New Wimbledon Theatre in 2005 replacing David Hasselhoff as J. M. Barries’ pirate antagonist.

Drawing: Sir Tony Robinson in The Wind in the Willows

Tony Robinson

I had a cunning plan to get a ‘graph from Tony Robinson. Best known for his portrayal of the buffoonish Baldrick in the BBC comedy series Blackadder. Tony… *clears throat* Sir Tony last appeared on stage in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On in 1997.

He was knighted in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for public and political service. He joked, “I also pledge that from this day on I’ll slaughter all unruly dragons and rescue damsels in distress who request my help.”

Tony returned to the stage after an absence of 16 years as Kenneth Grahame, narrating his much loved children’s classic The Wind in the Willows at the Duchess Theatre. Sir Tony signed my sketch going in for Saturday’s matinee… my plan was so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel…. well, maybe not a weasel, but a toad, or ratty or mole or even a badger.