Drawing: Kristin Scott Thomas in Electra at The Old Vic Theatre

Kristin Scott Thomas

Kristin Scott Thomas plays Sophocles’ avenging heroine Electra in the title role at London’s Old Vic.

It reunites Kristin Scott Thomas with director Ian Rickson after a string of great collaborations, including the award-winning 2007 revival of The Seagull at the Royal Court.  The stage is set in-the-round, as it has been all year at the theatre. Frank McGuinness adapted this retelling of the 2,500 year old classic Greek tragedy of a daughter’s grief over her father’s death, consumed by a desire for revenge against his murderers, her mother and stepfather. An added bonus is the music of PJ Harvey.

The BBC News reported “Kristin Scott Thomas thrills critics at the Old Vic”. With a clutch of five star reviews, the idiom “kill for a ticket triumph” has been used.

The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish called Kristin’s performance a, “tour de force,” and said, “… within 90 minutes or so, the erstwhile screen goddess propels herself into the first rank of theatrical titans”.

Phil Taylor in The Independent said Kristin was, “excruciatingly good,” and The Telegraph’s Tim Walker (my favourite London critic) said, “Kristin Scott Thomas’ performance  of raw human intensity makes this production unforgettable. This is unquestionably the Old Vic at its very best.”

Drawing: Sheridan Smith in Flare Path at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Sheridan Smith Flare Path

In 2011 Trevor Nunn directed a West End revival of Terrance Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of the playwright’s centenary year celebrations.

The story involves a love triangle between a pilot, his actress wife and a famous film star set in a hotel near an RAF Bomber Command airbase during WWII.

Universally acclaimed by the critics as a superb production, the were equally in agreement that Sheridan Smith stole the show. A major subplot involves her character Doris, a former barmaid who is married to and totally devoted to a Polish Count flying with the RAF.

She has the rare claim of winning Olivier Awards two years running followed by a BAFTA. Her second Olivier won for Flare Path. Sheridan is always generous with her time at the stage door where she signed this black biro sketch.

Drawing: Kerry Ellis in Wicked

kerry ellis

In July 2006 Kerry Ellis joined the original London cast of the musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, playing the role of Elphaba the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. She was temporary understudy to Idina Menzel for three months, replacing her and winning the 2008 WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award. She continues the role until June 2008, before transferring to the Broadway production of Wicked, where her five month run won her the 2009 Broadway Audience Award for Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance. Kerry returned to the London show for a further five months until May 2009.

In 2013 she was named the favourite West End ‘Elphaba’ in the WhatsOnStage.com poll. Not yet done with the role, Kerry has just completed a limited 12 week engagement replacing an injured Willemijn Verkaik the London’s Apollo Victoria where she kindly signed my sketch before her final performance.

Drawing: Mackenzie Crook in Jerusalem

Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook is probably best known from TV’s The Office and Game of Thrones, or as Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean Films.

A fellow illustrator and cartoonist, but it was his comedy sketches that dictated his career more. He wanted to be a graphic artist, but after being turned down three times by the Kent Institute of Art & Design he became a comedian alongside Iain Lee as ‘the cheeky, chirpy, chappy Charlie Cheese from Chorley’.

It was his stage work that gave me the opportunity to meet him. He received rave reviews as Ginger in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem which transferred from London’s Royal Court Theatre in August 2009 to the Apollo in the West End before a stint on Broadway where he was nominated for the Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

I drew this minimal line sketch of Mackenizie and met him at the Apollo stage door, where his sketches illustrated the Jerusalem programme. I gave him a copy of this sketch, which he then asked me to sign – a first for a sig-seeking-sketching-stalker.

As a teenager he inherited a rare breeding pair of Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises, leading to a hobby of breeding chelonians (the scientific name for turtles and the such like). I used to have a turtle called Algernon or ‘Algae’ for short cos he was green! Another conversation point, but that’s another story. He did uses his turtles in the play!

Drawing: Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance

michael flatley

The Lord of the Dance – Michael Flatley returned to the West End with Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games for a limited run at London’s Palladium from early September until Saturday night, but will by popular demand transfer to the Dominion in March next year following a world tour. It features new staging, costumes and choreography of the original masterpiece directed and choreographed by Michael who is not scheduled to appear at this stage in the 2015 version. He signed this pencil sketch for me at the Palladium.

Drawing: Ruth Wilson and Jude Law in Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse

Jude Law Ruth Wilson

Eugene O’Neill’s epic Pulitzer Award-winning play Anna Christie, about love and forgiveness charts one woman’s longing to forget the dark secrets of her past as she is reunited with her father, an old Scandinavian salt who had exiled her fifteen years earlier.

Winner of the Olivier Award for Best Revival, Rob Ashford’s nautically realistic production played London’s Donmar Warehouse in the late summer of 2011 with Jude Law and Ruth Wilson in the lead roles.

Michael Billington in his Guardian review said, “The acting matches the production’s visual power. Ruth Wilson, following in the footsteps of Greta Garbo on screen and Natasha Richardson on stage… capturing with seeming effortlessness the contradiction inside Anna. Law, in the best performance I’ve seen him give is also excellent as the brawny lover… conveys muscular innocence of a man who has a rolling nautical gait… ”

Both Jude and Ruth were nominated for Oliviers with Ruth winning her second, having previously picked up the award for Best Supporting Actress as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire also at the Donmar. This black biro sketch as based on rehearsal shots for the play which Ruth and Jude kindly signed for me.

Drawing: Zizi Strallen

zizi strallen

Zizi Strallen, the third of the extraordinary Strallen sisters said in a recent interview “we have this thing that’s in the Strallen blood”. She describes herself on Twitter as: “Aka Sylphide. Sister, lover, comedienne, daughter, actress, fighter, friend, dreamer, writer … In no particular order!”

Zizi is currently on the UK tour of Cats playing the role of Demeter, which will take up residence at London’s Palladium Theatre over Christmas. Her parents Cherida and Sandy Strallen both performed in the original production of Cats.

I drew this quick portrait of Zizi which she signed after a performance as Meg in Merrily We Roll Along in the West End transfer at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the summer of 2013.

Drawing: Summer Strallen in Love Never Dies

Summer Strallen

Summer Strallen is the second of the four hugely talented Strallen sisters. She has been nominated for four Olivier Awards. One was for her performance as Meg Giry in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera at the Adelphi Theatre.

It was a role that won her the Broadwayworld.com UK Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and she was also nominated for the Whatsonstage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

I did this black biro sketch during Summer’s season as Meg which ran through 2010 and early into 2011, which she signed at the stage door.

Drawing: Aimée-Ffion Edwards in Jerusalem

Amy-Ffion Edwards

I first saw Welsh actress Aimée-Ffion Edwards in Jez Butterworth’s outstanding play Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Ave. The play opened at the downstairs theatre of London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2009 to rave reviews. It starred Mark Rylance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, a modern day Pied Piper and Mackenzie Crook as Ginger, an aspiring DJ and unemployed plasterer.

The title is based on a short a short poem ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ by William Blake, best known as the anthem ‘Jerusalem’ with music written by Hubert Parry in 1916.

Jerusalem along with most of the original cast, including Aimée-Ffion, transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in 2010 before its Broadway run in 2011 followed by a London revival later that year, again at the Apollo. It won multiple awards, including the Olivier and Tony.

Aimee-Ffion played Phaedra, the stepdaughter of local thug Troy Whitworth who goes missing in the play. She is seen at the beginning of both Act One and Two singing the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ dressed in fairy wings, which was the basis for this sketch which she signed for me at the Apollo Stage door.

Drawing: Gemma Arterton in Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre

gemma arterton

Bond girl and BAFTA nominated Brit actress Gemma Arterton is currently on stage playing Rita O’Grady, the lead in the new musical Made in Dagenham which started previews earlier this month and opens at London’s Adelphi Theatre on 5 November.

Based on the film of the same name, it tells the story of sexual discrimination at the Ford car plant in Dagenham, Essex and the 1968 sewing machinists’ strike in which 850 female workers took on the might of the motoring giant and the corruption of the union supposed to protect them.

Directed by Olivier Award winner Rupert Goold, it is written by Richard Bean with music by Bond composer David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas.

Gemma has always been very generous with signing my theatre drawings, from The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick, The Master Builder at the Almeida, and The Duchess of Malfi at the Globe. However, after the first Saturday evening performance of Dagenham, the large gathering of ‘graphers at the stage door were told, “programmes and tickets only”.

This was the first time I had sketched Gemma in lead – previously only in ink in various applications – so I was keen to have it signed. True to form, she did make an execption for the sketch and signed it for me. If the audience are anything to go by, the show will be a smash hit. It is booked to run until March next year.