Frank Langella has won four Tony Awards. His latest was for his role as Andre in Florian Zeller’s THE FATHER this year. He played Richard Nixon, the only US President to resign the office in Peter Morgan’s FROST/NIXON at London’s Donmar Warehouse and the Gielgud before transferring to Broadway’s Bernard B Jacobs Theatre in April 2007, winning his third Tony. He reprised the role in the film version the following year, earning Oscar, Globe,SAG and BAFTA Award nominations.
I sent Frank this sketch of him in both roles while he was in THE FATHER at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre last month and he signed it with his unique abbreviated initials graph.
Top Hollywood publicist, manager and producer Neil Koenigsberg’s debut play, the bittersweet comedy drama OFF THE KINGS ROAD transferred to London’s Jermyn Street Theatre this month after successful runs in New York and Los Angeles. Michael Brandon plays Matt Browne, a recent widower, who takes a week’s respite in his favourite city, London, in a small hotel off the King’s Road. His stay turns into a voyage of self-discovery with a number of unplanned encounters, including a Russian prostitute and her jealous boyfriend. WestEnd Wilma described it as ‘an intelligent little gem.’
A unique part of the production is the e-appearance of Oscar winner Jeff Bridges as Matt’s LA-based psychologist Dr Kozlowski via Skype in three short segments.
Cheri Lunghi makes a delightful cameo as the nosey hotel resident and cat lover Ellen.
I left this sketch of Michael and Cheri at the theatre on the final day and it came back today signed and dedicated.
The play ROSS is Terence Rattigan’s bio-drama about English archaeologist, military genius and diplomat T. E. Lawrence. It is bookended with a framing device when Lawrence was hiding under an assumed name as ‘Aircraftman Ross’ in the Royal Air Force in 1922, before flashing back six years under a malaria-induced fever dream to his involvement as a liaison officer in the Arab Revolt against the Turks where he became known internationally as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.
It premiered in 1960 at London’s Theatre Royal, Haymarket with Alec Guinness in the title role, who went on to portray Prince Feisal in the Oscar-winning David Lean epic LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Steven Spielberg’s favourite film and his inspiration to become a filmmaker.
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Arabian Revolt, the Chichester Festival Theatre staged a rare revival of ROSS this month, directed by Adrian Noble and featuring Joseph Fiennes, who returned to the stage after seven years to play the British hero, in what many critics called a tour de force, capturing Lawrence’s troubled spirit. Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote, “Fiennes gives an accomplished performance in an elegantly mounted production.”
I sent this sketch of J.F. as T.E. to him at the theatre for signing and he graciously did so.
Jesse Eisenberg’s third play, THE SPOILS explores the questions of privilege and the value of family and relationships. The off-Broadway transfer to London’s Trafalgar Studios opened this month to critical acclaim. Jesse, Kunal Nayyar and Annapurna Sriram reprised their roles from the original New York production, joined by Londoners, Alfie Allen and Katie Brayben.
Jesse’s breakthrough performance as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 film THE SOCIAL NETWORK saw him nominated for a Golden Globe, the BAFTA and an Academy Award. Kunal is best known as Raj Koothrappali in the CBS hit BIG BANG THEORY. Last year Forbes listed him as the third highest paid TV actor. Alfie plays Theon Greyjoy in the hugely popular GAME OF THRONES and Katie won the Oliver Award for her betrayal of Carole King in BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL. Brooklyn-based Annapurna was recently seen as host Nicky Tomalin in the sci-fi podcast THE MESSAGE which reached Number 1 on the iTunes Charts.
Jesse signed a sketch for me during rehearsals. This is another drawing of all five cast members, who all arrived at once on Saturday prior to the matinee. It was a bit like London buses, none for a while then five arrived at once, but they kindly took their turn to sign it for me.
“I used to think an ocean of soda existed, but it was just a Fanta sea.” Just one of Bec Hill’s zillion one-liners in her show ELLIPSIS, which was a sell-out at the Edinburgh Fringe and at London’s Soho Theatre last year.
The pint-sized Australian born, London based dynamo founded the PUN-RUN with her writing partner Gavin J. Innes, the UK’s only pun-based comedy night. It’s an evening of good old fashioned wordplay that takes place bi-monthly at The Phoenix in London’s Cavendish Square.
“My brother and his friends spend all their time floating out to sea. Well, boys will be buoys.” Another one-liner.
The Scotsman called her “exuberant, daft and inventive.” She calls herself “Comedian. Presenter. Dork.” on her website.
Bec’s cult following in Oz, UK and Ireland is due to her award-winning solo shows, Twitter presence and YouTube videos, including delightful low tech animation. She also hosts Sky’s DC FANCAST and is seen on CBBC’s MY DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK. Bec won a golden toilet seat for the nation’s favourite toilet joke.” For Christmas last year I got given Sudoku toilet paper. It’s useless. You can only fill it with number ones and number twos.”
She returned to the Soho this month with her latest show CAUGHT ON TAPE and signed my sketch, incorporating a toon from her DINOSAUR vid. She decided to sign with a black sharpie, although obviously she had a few colours to choose from.
I often use the word favourite. That’s because many of the people I draw are favourites or appear in favourite productions. In the words of Julie Andrews, ‘these are a few of my favourite things’, which is easier than saying ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.
Jack Lemmon was a favourite. Well, he still is. They continue to ‘live’ and the Hollywood legend’s only son, Chris has made sure of that with his autobiographical play, A TWIST OF LEMMON, celebrating his famous father. It’s based on his 2006 book ‘A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute To My Father.’ The forward is written by Kevin Spacey, who credits Jack with his pursuit of acting. He would say, people who do well in this business have an obligation to send the elevator back down to help lift people starting out on the ground floor.”
Obviously Chris has more than a passing resemblance to his dad with the familiar impish grin and other Lemmonesque mannerisms. It’s hard to believe it’s Chris and not Jack onstage,” wrote Jordan Young in the LA Examiner.
He bought his solo show to the St James Theatre in London this month. It’s two hours of stories and anecdotes, a mixture of impersonating his father and being himself, punctuated by jazz standards. “How do you follow in the footsteps of a giant?” he asks the audience as he talks about what it was like to grow up with an internationally loved celebrity and how that impacted on a normal father-son relationship and his own aspirations under the weight of his father’s Oscar-winning heritage.
Described as beautiful, complex and poignant. It’s a touching tribute of a multifaceted yet troubled actor. In her review for British Theatre.Com, Helena Payne wrote, “Lemmon Jr brims with a boundless energy, his story telling is on point. He beautifully portrays Jack as he realises the joy of performing and making people laugh.”
Chris signed this drawing for me at the theatre and wrote me a nice note.
After making his stage debut as Albert in the original cast of WAR HORSE on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre in 2007, Kit Harington auditioned for his first small screen role, landing the part of Jon Snow in the TV phenomenon GAME OF THRONES and galloping to international fame.
Michael Giltz in the Huffington Post wrote, “Kit Harington makes his debut as Albert and I’m not certain if he’s a major new talent or just ideally suited for this particular role, but he’s wonderfully understated as the rough, simple but sweet kid who is devastated to find his dad has sold the horse to the military so he joins up so he can find Joey and bring him home safely.” The production transferred to the New London Theatre in London’s West End in April 2009 with Kit reprising his role until September that year.
He returned to the stage in April to play the over-reaching protagonist in the revival of Christopher Marlowe’s 1594 tragedy DOCTOR FAUSTUS at the Duke of York’s, which is now into its final week.
Kit had previously signed a Faustus sketch for me during early previews, but I was keen to get this one graphed of him as the Doctor and Albert. I managed to find a close enough spot among the quickly growing throng behind the stage door barriers after Saturday’s matinee when Kit does his customary session with the fans and managed to slip it to him through the sea of selfies. He appreciated the sketch particularly the WAR HORSE reference, even taking the time to dedicate it for me.
DOWNTON ABBEY’S Elizabeth McGovern returned to the London Stage this month in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s new play SUNSET AT THE VILLA THALIA on the Dorfman stage at the National Theatre. She plays June, the ‘retsina-sloshing’ alcoholic wife of the enigmatic Harvey, (Ben Miles) a US Government rep during the political turmoil in Greece in 1967. The ‘funny and passionate’ play looks at the effects of Western interventionism on the Greek nation and it’s people. The Times said ‘The play is a winner. Elizabeth McGovern is superbly funny.”
American-born but London-resident for many years, Elizabeth played Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham in the hugely popular TV series DOWNTON ABBEY from 2010 until this year. It’s a role that has earned her a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination and has won the ensemble SAG Award twice. She also received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and a Globe nomination for the 1981 film RAGTIME.
Elizabeth is also an accomplished singer-songwriter. In 2008 she formed the band ‘Sadie and the Hotheads’ which became a regular fixture at the Castle Pub in Lndon’s Portobello Rd.
Fittingly, I left this sketch of her as June in June at the National, and she signed it for me.