Drawing: Helen Bradbury and William Nicholson in Crash at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

helen bradbury

British actress Helen Bradbury featured in William Nicholson’s Crash at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in the Autumn of 2010. It was the Tony and Oscar nominated author’s first play in ten years and focuses on the banking crash and its subsequent fallout and blame game.

William’s screenwriting credits include Shadowlands and Gladiator. Helen’s TV CV includes Sherlock, The Borgias and Upstairs Downstairs and appeared in Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman. She signed my Crash sketch in the final week of Versailles a the Donmar Warehouse, where one critic called her performance “a striking combination of beauty, pragmatism and idealism”.

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Drawing: Gemma Whelan in Dark Vanilla Jungle at the Soho Theatre

gemma whelan

Actress and comedian Gemma Whelan took time out from Game of Thrones to return to the stage. She has just completed a run of Dark Vanilla Jungle at the Soho Theatre as part of the Soho Solo Season. It’s a breathtaking drama about one girl’s craving for family and home and the lengths she will go to to achieve them, by award winning writer Philip Ridley.

“On a Fringe full of powerful monologues, there’s none more shattering in its impact than this blazing new solo drama.”

“A masterpiece… An absolute must-see”

“Riveting… the extraordinary performance of Gemma Whelan… vivid and audacious”.

“Grabs you but he throat and takes you to some nasty places… the sheer velocity is astounding.”

I met Gemma after her final performance at the Soho, where she signed my sketch, which she was obviously happy with.

Drawing: Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss

An accomplished actor, director, producer, comedian, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, Mark Gatiss is the modern Renaissance man. “I’m all over the TV like a rat,” he said in The Independent, when they listed all his  small-screen involvement over the past winter season. He has written for and acted in DOCTOR WHO and SHERLOCK, which he also created and produced with Steven Moffat and is cast as banker Tycho Nestoris in Season 4 of THE GAME OF THRONES. Mark’s latest stage appearance was Menenius in the Donmar’s acclaimed production of CORIOLANUS, opposite Tom Hiddleston. It was his first Shakespearean role since his student days at Bretton Hall drama school in Yorkshire. The RadioTimes said,”… a beautifully modulated performance, provides the voice of reason throughout the play with skill and precision”. With other super turns under his belt-such as his Charles I in Hampstead Theatre’s 55 DAYS last year – Gatiss really is growing in statue as a stage performer”. Mark said he spent a lot of  the play saying “calm down”. He was like Geoffrey Howe to Coriolanus’s Thatcher. Both Mark and Tom, in the title role were nominated for Olivier Awards, which were presented at the Royal Opera House last Sunday (13 April,2014). I drew a quick montage of Mark as Menenius and the seventeenth-century British Monarch, which he signed on the red carpet at the ceremony.

Drawing: Barbara Flynn

barbara flynn

The 65 year old veteran actress Barbara Flynn believes there are now more roles than ever for older women. She currently stars in the new ITV British sitcom Pat & Cabbage with Cherie Lunghi. It’s about two newly single women with no intention of growing old gracefully, much to the annoyance of their kids. “I want to look my age, otherwise who’s going to play the old woman?” she was quoted in the Mail.

Throughout her successful career she has tended to play, as she puts it, “feisty strong women,” beginning with A Family At War and including Cracker, The Beiderbeke Trilogy and A Very Peculiar Practice. Many will remember he as the milk delivery lady and Granville’s unrequited love interest in Open All Hours.

But Barbara’s so-called “live-in” face doesn’t look odl at all when you see her in person. As one writer pointed out, “the few lines are mostly made by laughter,” which is what makes her a delight to meet.

I’ve always enjoyed Barbara’s many performances over the years and finally met her after a performance in the final week of the new WWI play Versailles at the Donmar. I had drawn this sketch some time ago from the early eighties and I took the opportunity to have it signed while she was in theatre. “That was a while ago,’ she laughed, “I drew it a while ago.” I replied. She laughed again and happily signed it.

Drawing: Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet

Now considered one of the world’s greatest living actresses with iconic roles such as the spoilt, rosy cheeked heiress in Titanic, the Nazi war criminal in The Reader, the free-spirited English author in Iris and the repressed suburban housewife in Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet has come quite a ways from her first acting job, dancing with the Honey Monster in a Sugar Puffs commercial.

One of the more interesting news stories during her promotion for her latest film Divergent was her refusal to sign the nude drawing of herself from Titanic. It’s the image of her famously draped, naked over a sofa while Leonardo DiCaprio sketched. The drawing is said to have been rendered by director James Cameron. “I don’t sign that one,” she said. “people ask me to sign that one a lot… it is still haunting me, I didn’t mean for it to be a photography that I would end up seeing 17 years later.”

Ranked as having one of the “most beautiful famous faces” by the Annual Independent Critics list for 17 consecutive years, I consented in sketching her face only. So here goes, I anxiously hold out my quick portrait as she walks the line and stops. “Oh,” she says, “did you do this?” I nod and simply ask her to sign it “to Mark”. “It’s beautiful and certainly,” she replies. Phew!

Drawing: Tamla Kari in Versailles

Tamla Kari

Tamla Kari can currently be seen as the female lead Constance Bonacieux in the new BBC adaption of the Alexander Dumas classic The Musketeers, and the sitcom Cuckoo with Greg Davies, Helen Baxendale and Taylor Lautner. She has just completed Versailles at the Donmar – Peter Gills new play focussing on World War I and the conflict’s aftermath. Critic Tim Walker described her as “hauntingly beautiful” in his 4 star review. I sketched Tamla in her role as Mabel, which she signed for me in the final week of the production at the theatre.

Drawing: Arthur Darvill in Once at the Phoenix Theatre

arthur darvill

British musician and actor Arthur Darvill’s small screen notoriety includes the concerned vicar of Broadchurch, and Rory Williams, the eleventh Doctor’s companion in Dr Who for three seasons, until he disembarked from the Tardis, killed off by the Weeping Angels.

Arthur has composed music for three London productions, The Frontline (Globe), Been So Long (Young Vic) and The Lightning Child (Globe) and has trod on the city’s boards in Our Boys (Duchess), Doctor Faustus (Globe) and Been So Long (Young Vic) and Swimming With Sharks (Vaudeville) with Doctor Who co-star Matt Smith.

And he also collects taxidermy, which seems to be a common hobby for a few people I’ve sketched. After an eight month run as Guy, the Irish busking vacuum cleaner repairman, in the musical Once at the Bernard B Jacobs Theater on Broadway, Arthur continued the role in the London production in march this year for a limited engagement.

I caught up with him at the Phoenix Theatre stage door midweek with my drawing. He said “It looks better than me,” but signed it anyway with a ‘nice’ comment.

Drawing: Billy Hayes in Riding the Midnight Express

billy hayesIn 1970, American student Billy Hayes was caught with two kilograms of hashish at Istanbul airport and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Weeks from his release, the Turkish High Court changed his charge from ‘possession’ to ‘smuggling’ and increased the  sentence to ‘life’. In 1975 he made a dramatic escape in a rowboat from his incarceration on the island prison to Greece, where he was interrogated and deported back to the States and freedom. He went from criminal to counterculture hero,recounting his experiences in the book, ‘Midnight Express’, which was also adapted into the classic and controversial 1978 film of the same title. Directed by Alan Parker, the screenplay was written by Oliver Stone, who went on to win his first Oscar for the adaption. He fictionalised parts of the book and according to Billy, missed the most exciting segment of the story-the daring escape. The violent and uncivilised portrayal of Turkey saw a 90 per cent drop in the country’s tourism numbers and Billy Hayes became public enemy number 1 in that country. He has spent the last thirty years trying to deal with the perception of the film. After a successful off Broadway run with his one-man show, ‘RIDING THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS’ , Billy has bought it to the Soho Theatre in London. “As much as I like the film, I’ve always had problems with it and I’m so delighted to really tell my story, my way with my words’, he said. In 2007,he finally returned to Turkey and offered a public apology. Oliver Stone did likewise. I met Billy at the Soho this week,where he signed my sketch. The show finishes on Sunday 13 April, 2014.

Lest We Forget

tamara rojo

Tamara Rojo is the Canadian born Spanish ballet dancer who is the Artistic Director of the English National Ballet (ENB), as well as its Lead Principal. The Telegraph calls her “one of the greatest ballerinas alive today” she combines “talent, technique, brains, beauty and artistic ambition and interpretive brilliance” writes Mark Monahan. For more than a decade she was the star dancer at the Royal Ballet and still makes guest appearances.

Her latest project is Lest We Forget, a compelling quartet of strongly-styled pieces inspired by the centenary of The Great War, marking ENB’s debut at the Barbican.

Critics agree, it’s Tamara’s boldest move since she became director, and the most exciting. She commissioned three big name and radically different choreographers to create their first works for the ENB. Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land is about loss and longing, danced to the music of Liszt. Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath follows the men at the front and the mounting numbers of dead and Akram Khan’s Dust explores the impact of war on women and the changes it brings. Tamara and Akram perform a duet, which I sketch.

The Independent called it “moving and ambitious… dancing full of pain and power.” Tamara also featured in the new classy black and white Lexus ‘Poise’ commercial, which I’ve also included in the sketch.

Lest We Forget continues until Saturday 12 April 2014.

Drawing: Paul Michael Glaser in A Fiddler on the Roof

paul michael glaser

Paul Michael Glaser began his acting career on Broadway, appearing in several productions before playing Perchik in the 1971 film version of Fiddler on the Roof. He became a household name as Detective Dave Starsky in the iconic US cop show Starsky and Hutch alongside David Soul.

Paul returns to the stage in the lead role of Tevye for a seven month UK tour of Fiddler on the Roof, directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood. It ran at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre last week where Paul kindly signed and dedicated my sketch. The tour ends in May 2014.