Drawing: Judd Trump

Judd Trump

‘Mr Haircut’, ‘The Ace in the Pack’ and ‘Juddernaut’ are a few of snooker champion Judd Trump’s nicknames. The former Word Number 1 is also known for his flamboyant style played at a ferocious pace. He has compiled 375 century breaks during his professional career so far. In 2011, after finishing runner-up at the World Championsips, Judd went on to win the UK Championship. The following year he lost to Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan in both the final of the Champion of Champions and the U.K. Championships, but beat him in the inaugural International Championship to become World Number 1, a position he has held twice.

Judd is a lefty, so to my horror I thought I had drawn him using his cue incorrectly. I looked a zillion photos and based this sketch on one that had him using the cue on the rest with his right hand. According to commentators, his natural game is left-handed but for some shots, particularly when using the rest he is right-handed. Apparently a number of snooker plays alternate depending on the difficulty of the shot. A new nickname comes to mind, ‘The Ambidextrous Ace’.

I’m not sure which hand he used to graph my sketch, but he did it at last year’s World Championships at The Crucible in Sheffield and returned it to me.

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Drawing: Susannah Fielding in Bull at the Young Vic

Susannah Fielding - Bull

The “consistently brilliant” Susannah Fielding was joined by Nigel Lindsay, Max Bennett and Marc Wootton in Clare Lizzimore’s “stunningly nasty production” (TimeOut) of Mike Barlett’s BULL when it was restaged at London’s Young Vic’s intimate Maria space over the Christmas season. She played the icy, sleek alpha female Isobel, who uses her manipulative skills to survive corporate downsizing when three warring work colleagues fight for the two remaining positions in what critic Sophia Chetin-Leuner called “The performative splendour of being cruel.”

Winner of the 2014 Charleson Award for her memorable portrayal as Portia in Rupert Goold’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE at the Almeida Theatre, Susannah’s star continued to shine. “The spoils go to Susannah Fielding, who gets to deliver the powerhouse speech that brings the play to its climax,” wrote Thomas Dearnley-Davison in Spindle Magazine.
Susannah signed this sketch of her in the role after surviving another session in the ‘bullring’ on the final Saturday.

Drawing: Nigel Lindsay in Bull at the Young Vic

Nigel Lindsay Bull

‘The Grim Reaper’, was Nigel Lindsay’s reply when asked how he would describe, in three words, his character Carter in his latest stage sojourn.

‘Life can be nasty, brutish and short. So is this play.’

This is one critic’s summation of Mike Bartlett’s 55 minute, Olivier Award-winning  BULL, which was recast and returned to the Young Vic’s Maria space over the festive period (the ‘grinch’ option to all that joyish stuff).  It’s described as a vicious comedy in an allegorical death match between business colleagues. Nigel plays the brutal boss who has to ‘interview’ three people ( Max Bennett, Susannah Fielding and Marc Wootton) for two roles in a workplace-come-bullring. Nigel was a stockbroker in a pre-actor life, so he was familiar with a number of the play’s concepts. He was actually involved in an early reading of the play, but was unable to be participate in the initial runs at the Sheffield Crucible, off-Broadway and the Young Vic in 2014/15.

In an interview he was asked what asked what supernatural power he would choose, Nigel said invisibility, which would make drawing him a little easier. He also added “I could sit naked in a Cabinet meeting and no one would ever know” ….except maybe all the other invisible naked people. So this is a fully-visible, fully-clothed rendering of Nigel as Carter that he signed on his way to the BULL fight for the final matinee a couple of weeks ago.

Drawing: The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap

It’s the longest running play in the world. Agatha Christie’s classic ‘whodunnit’ THE MOUSETRAP is into it’s 64th year, opening on London’s West End in 1952. It has run continuously since it’s 25 November opening. Starting at The Ambassadors Theatre, it  moved next door to the larger St Martin’s in March 1974, without skipping a performance, which numbered 25,000 on 18 November 2012.

For some of those years I have been meaning to do a sketch to pay homage to it’s endurance and longevity. In fact my rendering urges began as far back as the early 1990’s. The  murder mystery’s cast has changed regularly since the original production, which included Sir Richard Attenborough. It was only a matter of finding out the cast members, which number 8 and do the deed. Over time I have made half-hearted attempts, but last December I was determined to complete the task.

I found out the cast and collected production snaps from various sources, including the theatre stills and drew my MOUSETRAP montage. Playing the parts of Molly and Giles Ralston, Christopher Wren, Mrs Boyle, Major Metcalf, Miss Casewell, Mr Paravicini and Detective Sergeant Trotter were, in no particular order, Claire Cartwright, Eleanor Cox, Henry Devas, Timothy Knightly, Phillip Langthorne. Audrey Palmer, Robert Rees and Ian Targett. I duly drew the aforementioned  and wrote a covering letter, explaining my elongated mission. Just before I was about to complete the sketch I checked to make sure the cast were still appearing. They were not! They finished their run the day before. Curses. The nearly completed sketch is attached below as evidence.

The incoming cast for the 2016 season were already on the boards. Eddie Eyre, Emma Deegan, Rob Heanley, Philip Cox, Eunice Roberts, Jocasta King, Timothy O’Hara and Laurence Kennedy quickly found their characters scribbled in 4B across a clean A4 sheet and delivered to them in a not-so-plain brown envelope. They all signed it. Mission accomplished.

The Mousetrap 2

Drawing: Julie Christie in Old Times

Julie Christie

Thirty-three years after her first film, British actress Julie Christie made her West End debut at the age of 54, as Kate in a revival of Harold Pinter’s OLD TIMES in the summer of 1995.

Described as a ‘pop icon’ of swinging London during the 1960’s, Life Magazine hailed 1965 as ‘The Year of Julie Christie’ when she won the Best Actress Oscar and BAFTA for her role as amoral model Diana Scott in John Schlesinger’s DARLIING. It was also the year of her most famous role, Lara Antipova in David Lean’s international hit DR ZHIVAGO.

Fellow West End debutant Harriet Walter and Leigh Lawson completed the OLD TIMES cast which ran at the Wyndham’s Theatre for two months after transferring from the Theatre Clwyd in Wales.

“The actress’s warm, seductive presence is ideally suited to Kate. First glimpsed sprawled on a sofa, face beaming with almost unnerving serenity. Christie has a sphinx like allure, crucial to the evening,” wrote Matt Wolf in Variety.

There was no dramas getting Julie to sign my portrait of her as Kate. I simply popped it in the post and she returned it.

Drawing: Kris Kristofferson at the Union Chapel

Kris Kristofferson

I was really pleased to get this drawing back I drew of the absolute legend, Kris Kristofferson – singer, songwriter, musician, actor, Rhodes Scholar, army vet and all round good guy. Winner of the numerous Grammys, a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar nominated, the seventy-nine year old played his only London gig on his early 2016 tour at the Union Chapel in Islington last Thursday evening. I did hover about, mid-afternoon with the hope of getting it signed in person, but time was against me so left it with a nice lady in the office who said she would make sure Kris got it. The Union Chapel working church  and an award-winning venue they call ‘the amazing space’. It was in good hands.

Back in 1991 when Kris was part of the country music supergroup, ‘The Highwaymen‘ along with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash they performed in New Zealand’s capital Wellington. I happened to ‘stumble’ upon Johnny and Kris in a cafe… and I just so happened to have a caricature of the group on my personage, which they were both happy to sign and take back to their nearby hotel to get Willie and Waylon to do the same… as the legend goes.

His 90 minute acoustic set at the Chapel covered 30 songs. Reviews used the words ‘magnetising’, ‘sumptuous’ and ‘timeless’. One of my all-time favourite lines is from his hit which opened the evening, ” Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. It’s seems to be Kris’ guiding mantra. On his tombstone he wants three lines from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird On The Wire’ inscribed,
“Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in the choir
I have tried in my way to be free.”

If you’re free and in Dublin, Kris is playing the Olympia for the next three nights.

Drawing: Simon Lipkin, Laura Cubitt and Ben Thompson in The Lorax

The Lorax

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”

The Lorax is Dr Suess’ moustachioed and cantankerous critter (and the author’s personal favourite), whose mission is to protect the planet from the greedy, Tuffula tree-chopping, thneed-knitting businessman, the Once-Ler. THE LORAX was also a festive production directed by Max Webster at The Old Vic, which competed its successful season last weekend. Adapted by David Greig, who also did CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, currently running at Drury Lane, it’s a fable about environmental change and the damage humans can do to it. As a Christmas show it was full of the joys, but with a serious message, blending theatrical innovation, puppetry, a bunch of brand new songs and zany humour.

The Guardian’s Michael Billington called the production, “the best family show since MATILDA”.

“Stunningly brought to the stage,” as one critic wrote, as a puppet, simultaneously manipulated by three actors – Simon Lipkin, Laura Cubitt and Ben Thompson, who I missed out in my sketch, because he’s usually working closer to the floor and out of shot.  No stranger to puppet theatre, Simon, an original cast member of the London production of AVENUE Q, provided the voice for the Lorax. Together with Ben and Laura, another with a penchant for puppets, including WAR HORSE for The National, they brought the title character to life.

I left the drawing at the theatre, because on the night I was waiting at the stage door,  constant rain was dampening my enthusiasm and the artwork. It came back signed, including Ben with a kind note from Simon, explaining the additional siggy.

The Lorax Note

Drawing: Brian May

Brian May

When I found out that virtuoso guitarist Brian May was one of the special guests at AN EVENING WITH RUSS BALLARD at the intimate Leicester Square Theatre this week, I immediately did this simple line drawing in the hope it may be graphed. The theatre is located on Leicester place, a small lane that separates Chinatown from the famous Square. With limited vehicular access, so Brian was walking. With his distinctive Einstein hairstyle, one wouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to spot him. I positioned myself on the corner and waited.

Not only is Brian the 2nd greatest guitarist of all time according to a ‘Guitar World’ reader’s poll, but he’s also an astrophysicist, graduating with a PhD from Imperial College. Probably explains the Einstein hair. His doctorate, which was put on hold after Queen’s rise to fame in the 1970’s, was finally completed in 2007. His thesis was the study of reflected light from the interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the solar system. Simples!

My drawing included his unique home-built electric guitar called the ‘Red Special’ which he designed at 16. It’s made of wood from a 18th Century fireplace. The tremolo’s arm is constructed from an old bicycle saddle bag carrier, the knobs at the ends are from a knitting needle and the springs are valve springs from an old motorcycle. No expense spared for Queen’s lead guitarist and mega-hits composer.And speaking of coin, Brian does not use the use the usual plastic pic..oh no…he uses a coin, a sixpence, instead. I have different reasons for carrying coins.

The Einstein of Rock  eventually strolled to the venue late in the afternoon, only interrupted as he turned the corner by moi. Brian is always very friendly and accommodating. He also liked the drawing, which was a bonus and was happy to sign and dedicate for me.

Drawing: Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

‘Mr Keaton will not be signing autographs,” we were told last night at the UK Premiere of SPOTLIGHT at London’s Curzon Cinema in Mayfair. Michael and fellow cast members Mark Ruffalo and Stanley Tucci were due to arrive at six, but were held up. (It’s always a curiosity why Premieres are scheduled during rush hours – yes plural – when the traffic in Central London is gridlocked). In essence they were right. It is a physical impossibility to sign autographs when you are not physically there. SPOTLIGHT is the true story of the Boston Globes expose on the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdioceses and a leading contender for the BAFTA and Oscar Best Picture prizes.

The air temperature nudged zero and below by the time they arrived at 7.20, ten minutes before the start of the screening. The paps quickly grabbed pics as the trio raced into the cinema with only Stanley managing to sign on the run. We all hoped that, in a gesture of goodwill, since many had waited in the icy conditions for three plus hours that they might be persuaded to do some graphing on exit.

The film intro lasted five minutes and they emerged in a hurry to get to more media commitments… but stopped to accommodate the gathering, including Mr Keaton who approached the pen near the cinema entrance and attempted to sign, but the barriers began to buckle as the throng surged towards him. Security quickly ushered him towards his waiting vehicle, which, just so happened to be in front of me. The Curzon premieres are unique events when they decide not to close the street. The cast are always dodging drive-throughs in order to satisfy the fans camped on the other side. Anyway he saw this drawing I did of him in the title roles from BIRDMAN and BEETLEJUICE and said, “Oh that’s really nice,” signing and dedicating it for me. After a sporadic handful of graphs he departed.

Trivia note: I found out that his birth name was Michael Douglas, can’t think why he changed it.

Drawing: Four Austentatious Women

Austentatious

“One of the most enjoyable 60 minutes on the fringe” is how The Guardian summarises AUSTENTATIOUS – AN IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN NOVEL, an improvised comedy play, based on nothing more than a title from the audience. It’s ‘eloquent, irreverent and a 100% improvised take on the works of Britain’s best-loved novelists.’ Some titles from previous shows include ‘Mansfield Shark’, ‘Jurassic Mansfield Park’, Sixth Sense and Sensibility’, Darcy & Hutch’ and ‘I know What You Did Last Season.’

For one night only, January 9 to be precise, the seven dashing dames and buxom boys of AUSTENTATIOUS swapped bonnets and breeches and took to the boards of the Leicester Square Theatre in London to perform CROSSTENTATIOUS to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Fund.

The four damsels, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Cariad Lloyd, Charlotte Gittens and Rachel Parris signed this sketch of them in their regular Regency attire. I had no room on the A4 sheet to fit Graham Dickson, Joseph Morpurgo and Andrew Hunter Murray who complete the troupe, but they will all be back in their London ‘home’ at the end of the month and the next month and the following month… in fact they are many happy returners, so I can collect the gentleman’s graphs and catch another show.