Drawing: Eric Davis is the Red Bastard

Red Bastard

Labelled America’s premiere bouffon, Eric Davis is best known for creating the role of Allen Smithee in Cirque du Soleil’s Iris, and for the past ten years, the ‘dangerous comedy’ monster, ‘Red Bastard’. According to his website, Red Bastard’s mission is to charm, disarm, shock and seduce. His target: you!

It’s described as: “no holds barred theatre, demanding to know nothing less than the existential query ‘who the hell do you think you are?'”.

The show is an interactive feast of biting wit, improvisation and physical prowess. Eric based the shape on the Palaeolithic limestone figurine “Venus of Willendorf” and said it “fulfilled the primal, almost religious, ritual function of theatre” as he continually pushes the audiences psychological buttons.

Audiences are warned to be prepared for anything to happen – raw conversations, provocations, traps, rewards and catch 22s.  Lines will be crossed, laughs will be had. Eric’s persona signed my sketch at the Pleasance Theatre during his London run earlier this month.

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Drawing: Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt

London born Emily Blunt returned to her home town for the early morning premiere of Edge of Tomorrow. It was the start of a very long day for the Golden Globe winner and Tom Cruise who embarked on a one day global three city premiere marathon which began at the BFI iMax, before flying to Paris and then on to New York.

Having just given birth to her baby daughter, Hazel, in February, Emily said she was used to getting minimal sleep and thought she would last the enduring schedule in better shape than Tom. So it was a fresh Emily who happily signed my sketch between rain drops before jetting off.

Drawing: Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages

Tom Cruise Rock Of Ages

Tom Cruise and co-star Emily Blunt embarked on an epic three cities in one 24 hour premiere marathon to launch their latest film Edge of Tomorrow. London first thing, Paris in the afternoon and New York for a late night screening. That mean a real early premiere at the BRI iMax in London. Tom arrive at 6.45am, others had gathered hours earlier in the persistent precipitation. The iMax’s circular design acts more as a sieve than as a shelter, as the showers swept through. However the did serve us coffee and tea and water.

Tom plays an inexperienced soldier in a futuristic conflict who uses a time loop to help Earth battle an alien invasion. he keeps living the same day over and over again, never reaching the tomorrow of the title. The premieres echoed the films complex plot.

I drew this sketch of Tom as the fading rock god Stacee Jaxx in 2012’s Rock of Ages, a film adaption of the 2006 Chris D’Arienzo comedy Broadway musical of the same name.

His performance received unanimous critical acclaim. He spent two months in vocal training and learning the guitar, singing five hours a day.

He loved the sketch , “that’s such a great drawing”. Given his hectic schedule and tight travel arrangements ahead, the PAs were anxious to kep him moving, but he was calm as always and great with the drenched fans. He had a silver Sharpie, but was more than happy ti sing the sketch wit a black one.

:that role was so much fun… and I like that drawing,” as the minders moved him along the line, replacing my black Sharpie with the silver one, then off to Paris.

Drawing: Dana Delany

dana delany

Dana Delany won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Captain Colleen Murphy, a nurse with the 510th Evac Hospital during the Vietnam War in the critically acclaimed American TV series China Beach.

During it’s four seasons (1988-91), Dana  was also nominated for two more Emmy’s and two Golden Globe. She was was not successful with her first audition for the role. “They thought I wasn’t pretty enough.” Dana said it in interview. So she cut her hair into a bob and successfully re-auditioned when the producer lost their first choice.

In 1991 the readers of People magazine voted her on of the 50 Most Beautiful People In the World.  In April 2011 Dana was again in the magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful list. She turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV show Sex and the City, which went on to make Sarah Jessica Parker a household name.

She has recently been nominated for Outstanding Lead Performance at the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Cirtcle Awards. fo rher role in The Parisian Woman, which had its world premiere at the South Coast Rep in Orange County.

With apologies to Jackson Pollock

Oyster Festival 2

Nearby my hometown of Invercargill, New Zealand, there’s a small town named Bluff, right at the southern tip of the South Island.

Every year they celebrate their world class oysters with the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival. Every year (almost) the weather is wild and wet, and this year it was so stormy that the festival was forced to close early.

Inspired by Abstract Expressionism, and following in the footsteps of ‘Jack the Dripper’ I created this cartoon to mark the event. Unfortunately, it wasn’t published. But I had fun doing it. The published specimen is here:

Oyster Festival 1

Drawing: Ronnie Corbett

Ronnie Corbett

Ronald Balfour Corbett is a beekeeper who keeps hives at his second home in East Lothian, Scotland. He’s also known as Ronnie Corbett, the comic legend and a half of The Two Ronnies with the late, great Ronnie Barker.

He’s best remembered for his unique monologues, sitting on a large chair (any normal chair with 4’11” Ronnie on it would look large) delivering rambling jokes that went off in divergent directions only to finally arrive at the original punchline that had long been forgotten. He’s been the biz for a long time. If fact, long enough to be awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace in 2012. He recalls the Queen said “you’ve been doing this a long time, haven’t you?” and Ronnie replied, “over 50 years, but not as long as you.”

I like this quote I found, attributed to him: “We live in the same world, Bercow (speaker of the House of Commons since 2009) and me: not big enough to play James Bond; not small enough to be adopted by Madonna.”

I’ve met Ronnie on a few occasions in London at various premieres and press nights, but I can’t remember when he signed this sketch. I mailed it to him sometime in the 1980s when he performed in New Zealand, so it was either Auckland or Christchurch.

Drawing: Melanie Chisholm in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre

Mel C Blood Brothers

Sporty Spice, Mel C, Melanie C or Melanie Jayne Chisholm as her parents called her, has sold more than 12 million records as a solo artist and over 100 million with the Spice Girls. She is second on the list of No.1 singles for a female artist in the UK. She is also the only female to reach No.1 as part of a quartet, a quintet, a duo and a solo.

In 2009 Melanie performed the role of Mrs Johnstone for six months in the musical Blood Brothers by Willy Russell in London’s Phoenix Theatre and was nominated for Best Actress in a musical at the 2010 Olivier Awards. She won a WhatsOnStage Award in 2013 for her portrayal of Mary Magdalen in the UK arena tour of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

I met Mel at the Phoenix Theatre stage door in December 2009. She was brilliant – bright and bubbly – with everyone and took the time to chat to the gathered admirers.

Drawing: Pat Cash

Pat Cash

The former World no. 4, Pat Cash won the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final in 1987 beating Ivan Lendl in straight sets. In fact he only lost one set in the entire tournament that year. To date he is the only player to win junior, tour and legends Wimbledon titles. Oh, yes and he plays guitar in his own band.

This is a very quick portrait sketch of Pat wearing his trade mark chequered bandana. I met Pat at the World Tennis Day at London’s Earls Court where he repeated his Wimbledon triumph over Ivan 8-6.

Drawing: Rhiannon Sommers in The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith

Rhiannon Sommers

Rhiannon Sommers played the free spirited fiery protagonist in Sir Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith in a revival at the Jermyn Street Theatre this year.

Set in Venice in 1895, young widow Agnes Ebbsmith causes controversy when she runs off with the married Lucas Cleeve, a defecting Tory MP and they enter into a ‘compact’ without matrimonial constraints. She was known as ‘Mad Agnes’ a pale ‘witchy woman’ who preached socialism and free love to the working class where English ex-pat community well bred Victorian ladies would fear to tread. She was a vehement critic of all social conventions, especially marriage.

The shaky liaison hits a stumbling block with the arrival of Lucas’s family from London, led by his uncle the dangerous Duke of St Opherts to tempt his nephew back to the Westminster fleshpots. Guardian critic Michael Billington comments on the confrontation, “The best scenes are those where the militant Agnes confronts Lucas’s uncle. they come off well in Abby Wright’s production because Rhiannon Sommers suggests Agnes is more interested in defeating a class rival than holding on to Lucas.”

The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith completed its season on 3 May.

Drawing: Jemima Rooper in Blythe Spirit

jemima rooper 1

One of the nicest people in ‘the business’ is 32 year old British actress Jemima Rooper. She apparently wrote “I want to act” in lipstick on her bed at the age of nine, so got an agent and had her first professional role in the 1993 film The Higher Mortals. Three years later she was George – a regular cast member in Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five while still at school. Her spirited approach to her acting may have been due to being an only child. She just wanted to “play imaginary games… dress up and be weird”.

Her busy career proves it’s no dead end job, but she has ventured into the afterlife for a few roles. She played the loveable lesbian ghost Thelma Bates in Sky’s occult-themed drama Hex for two seasons 2004-2005 and the mythological monster Medusa in the TV series Atlantis last year.

Currently she is in Blythe Spirit alongside theatre icon Dame Angela Lansbury during its run at London’s Gielgud Theatre. Playing the annoying and temperamental deceased first wife Elvira, Jemima is conjured on stage each performance by Angel’s Madame Arcati’s wayward seance.

I caught up with her between shows on Saturday as she floated out to get some tea. She’s always in high spirits and has was more than happy to sign the sketches.

jemima rooper 2