Drawing: Olga Smirnova, Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet

Olga Smirnova

The Boshoi were back in London town. The world’s most famous ballet company, the Moscow-based Bolshoi returned for a three-week summer residency which has just concluded at the Royal Opera House. They have been regular visitors to Covent Garden and this year marked the 60th anniversary of the company’s first visit, staging five productions – DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE.

Considered the Company’s rising star is Prima Ballerina Olga Smirnova, was given the honour and responsibility of opening the season, dancing Kitri in DON QUIXOTE with fellow Principal  Denis Rodkin. According to The Telegraph’s Mark Monahan, Olga is a truly extraordinary talent, the “brightest new Jewel in the Bolsho Ballet’s glittering crown.” He went on to praise her ‘formidable’ physical gifts, “long-limbed, with a swan-like neck, superbly pliant spine and ravishing, sway-back classical line,” all of which are ideal for drawing.

Backtrack Critic Jade Larine summed up the dazzling production, “The opening night speeded the Royal Opera House’s heartbeat to an insane level of tachycardia : the Bolshoi is coming back at its best.”

Olga also performed the lead roles in SWAN LAKE and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW during the season.

She signed my sketch for me after the opening night performance.

Drawing: In Gee Chun

In Gee Chun

Champion golfer In Gee Chun, who is also known as Chun In-gee is South Korean, as are most of the planet’s champion women’s golfers. The 22 year-old, who turned professional in 2012, won the US Open at the Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania in 2015, coming from behind to post four birdies on the last seven holes to win by one stroke over fellow Korean Amy Yang. She was also tied for 2nd place at this year’s ANA Inspiration major tournament in Rancho Mirage, California. For a nice bit of symmetry, she is currently ranked number 8 in the world, with an eight place finish, scoring eight under par at the British Open in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks ago, where she signed this sketch.

Drawing: Alex Price as Draco Malfoy

Alex Price

British actor Alex Price plays Harry Potter’s former rival and pure-blood wizard Draco Malfoy in the West End premiere of J.K.Rowing’s HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO at the Palace Theatre. The two-part play written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany is set nineteen years after the events in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, which sees Harry, now an employee of the Ministry of Magic, sending his son to Hogwarts School of Wizards and Wizardry, where he befriends Draco’s son Scorpius.

Alex has appeared in popular television programmes such BEING HUMAN, MERLIN and DOCTOR WHO. Since 2013 he played Sid Carter, one of the the main characters in FATHER BROWN, the crime drama series inspired by the original stories by G.K Chesterton. He was also Proteus in PENNY DREADFUL. His stage credits include 3 WINTERS at the National and BIRDLAND at the Royal Court.

Alex’s transformation into the prototypical spoiled brat and bully is complete with the signature sleek blonde hair and ‘steely grey gaze’… a guise not worn at the stage door, but nevertheless I managed to recognise him anyway and he signed my Draco drawing.

Sketch: Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko

Last time I posted a sketch of Korean-born New Zealand golf sensation Lydia Ko was in July 2014, which she signed for me during the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. At that time, it was her first year as a professional and she was already ranked number two, without winning a major title. She also wore her distinctive glasses.

Now Lydia is number one, a position she reached last February at the age of 17, becoming the youngest golfer, male or female to attain that distinction in the professional game. She has also won two majors, The Evian Championship in France with a record closing round of 63, which is the the lowest score in final round to win a major and this year’s ANA Inspiration at the Mission Hills Country Club in California. She nearly made it three in a row, being piped in a play-off by Brooke Henderson at the Women’s PGA in April.

Not surprisingly she is also the youngest player to win both a major and two majors.
Last week Lydia returned to the UK for the British Open at the Woburn Golf Club prior to representing NZ at the Rio Olympics and signed this updated drawing – minus her distinctive specs – for me.

Drawing: Cherrelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley

Cherelle Skeete

Birmingham-born actress Cherrelle Skeete plays Rose Granger-Weasley in HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO at London’s Palace Theatre. In the eighth instalment of J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter adventures, the two-part play is set nineteen years later. Rose is the daughter of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. She is about to embark on her first year at Hogwarts along with Harry’s son Albus. J.K.Rowling in ‘Pottermore’ said, “Rose is like her mother, but more secure, more grounded. She was born to wizards and knows her place in the world. Cherrelle plays her perfectly: bossy but deeply lovable.”

After graduating with an Honours Degree from the Central School of Speech & Drama in 2011, Cherrelle made her West End debut in THE LION KING the following year as Shenzi cover and swing. She played Sister Sally in the Olivier-nominated THE AMEN CORNER at the National in 2013, returning last year to play Katya in Patrick Marber’s THREE DAYS IN THE COUNTRY, an adaption of Ivan Turgenev’s moving comedy A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY. Cherrelle’s small screen debut was in the fourth series of the BBC period drama CALL THE MIDWIFE, then starred in the BBC1’s ORDINARY LIES.

It was a little quieter before last Saturday’s matinee, compared with the hustle and bustle of the previous week’s World Premiere gala performance when I missed Cherrelle at the stage door. This time only a handful of ‘graphers were hovering and a lot easier to have my drawing signed.

Drawing: Brooke Henderson

Brooke Henderson

Current world number three, eighteen year-old Brooke Henderson became the youngest player to win the Women’s PGA golf championship in June this year when she beat fellow teenage sensation and top-ranked Lydia Ko in a sudden death play-off at Washington’s  Sahalee Country Club. The ‘Canadian phenom’ as her local newspaper describes her, was 18 years, 9 months and 2 days, which makes her the second-youngest ever to win one of the LPGA’s five major tournaments, behind Lydia, who won the Evian Championship last year aged 18 years, 4 months and 20 days.

She played the British Open last week at the Woburn Golf Club, just outside London, where she signed this drawing for me.

Drawing: Sam Clemmett as Albus Severus Potter

Sam Clemmett

Twenty-two year-old English actor Sam Clemmett plays Harry Potter’s troubled middle son Albus Severus in the eighth and latest instalment of the Potter juggernaut, HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO at London’s Palace Theatre.  Albus is a shy, introverted, often misunderstood character, having to deal with his famous father’s past, who is propelled into a massive journey as he follows in Harry’s footsteps at Hogwarts and the wizarding world.

Sam, from a non-theatrical family, didn’t go to drama school. He joined the National Youth Theatre sometime between the ages of 16 and 17, which led to his first professional stage role in THE LORD OF THE FLIES at the Regent Open Air Theatre. His TV roles include THE MUSKETEERS, FOYLE’S WAR, DOCTORS and HOLBY CITY. Actually he doesn’t look 22. In a recent Evening Standard interview he said he looks, “Around 12. I’ll be ID’d forever,” an obvious advantage when it comes to playing the child wizard.

My recent frequent visits to the Palace Theatre stage door in Soho included the World Premiere gala performance on a whirlwind Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, where I managed to catch Sam, who graphed my sketch.

Drawing: Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton

Hamilton Lin Manuel Miranda

The  new musical obsession, HAMILTON is the hottest ticket on Broadway at the moment. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also starred in the title role, the hip-hop homage to American founding father and George Washington’s chief aide Alexander Hamilton is based on the biography by Ron Chernow. After an initial run off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in early 2015, the production transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in August with unprecedented advance box-office sales. It garnered a record 16 Tony nominations, winning eleven, including Best Musical.  It also picked up  a Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Lin-Manuel’s Tony and Olivier-winning musical IN THE HEIGHTS is currently playing London at the King’s Cross Theatre. It collected 13 Tony noms, winning four, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy.It was also nominated for a Pulitzer. HAMILTON is scheduled to hit the West End next October at the Victoria Palace Theatre with Sir Cameron Macintosh spending £30 million renovating the venue for its much anticipated arrival.

I did this montage drawing with Lin-Manuel as the centre-piece and sent it to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with low expectations. While I’ve had some success through the mail from Broadway, the ratio isn’t encouraging. When he finished his lead role in early July and nothing came back I thought it will be a case of waiting until next year in London. But to my surprise it arrived back signed, dedicated and inscribed ‘siempre’ (always) on Saturday. That’s a rap!

Drawing: Poppy Miller as Ginny Potter

Poppy Miller

HARRY POTTER’S Geneva Weasley, known as ‘Ginny’ to her family and friends is the youngest of seven Weasley children and the first girl for several generations. In the films, her ‘crush’ on Harry develops further and in the eight instalment of the Potter phenomenon, the play HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO, which is currently taking the West End by storm, she is married to Harry, who is now a Ministry of Magic employee.

English actress Poppy Miller plays the adult Ginny Potter. Her extensive stage and screen roles include DC Carol Browning in the British detective series THE COMMANDER, several parts in the Almeida Theatre’s production of THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, including Mary Magdalene and both Viola and her twin brother Sebastian in TWELTH NIGHT at the Tricycle in 2008.

I met Poppy at the stage door of London’s Palace Theatre after the World Premiere gala matinee performance of PART ONE last Saturday. My rendering reputation or as some might say, sketch stalking had obviously gone before me. She greeted me with “Ah, the drawing man” with a smile and signed this Ginny montage.

Drawing: Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

One of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses at the moment, Margot Robbie is the bookmaker’s clear favourite to become a Bond girl in the next installment of the 007 spy saga. The Australian-born London resident returned to the English capital yesterday for the European Premiere of the DC Comics superhero or in this case supervillain film SUICIDE SQUAD. “So bad-to-the-bone, it’s good”, EMPIRE magazine declared. She’s a clear favourite with both the fans and the critics, playing the deranged prison shrink Dr Harleen Quinzel, who becomes the baseball-bat wielding, toxic-Barbie, Harley Quinn in her strippergram clothes, under the influence of her former asylum patient The Joker (Jared Leto).

The Las Vegas Review Journal critic, who said that she was the best part of and in the movie wrote, “I adore Margot Robbie. I’d walk through fire and a Justin Bieber concert for her.” High praise indeed. It’s almost what I had to do to get my sketch signed. Not a sedate gathering in Leicester Square on a steamy Wednesday evening. Oh No. With the die-hard comic fanatics, school holidays refugees and the muggy weather, combined with a four-hour wait, crammed into claustrophobic pens (always a strange juxtaposition that word, given that it’s also the essential weapon in the graphers arsenal). Madness takes it’s toll. Margot did the line as usual, but it took a few attempts to get the rendering in front of her long enough time to pen her moniker-a nifty use of the ‘t’ as an ‘x’ siggy.