After a stellar junior career, 19 year-old German tennis prodigy Alexander Zverev’s rise up the senior rankings is attracting attention. While growing up he was a huge Roger Federer fan and many are predicting he will emulate his idol. Rafael Nadal said, “He is a clear possible future No.1. He has all the shots.” Tennis is in his blood. His father Alexander Snr was a professional player, representing Russia in the Davis Cup before emigrating to Hamburg, where Alex Jnr, known on the tour as ‘Sascha’ was born. Both his father and mother are now tennis coaches and his brother Mischa is also a professional player.
Alexander won the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award and is the youngest player inside the top 50 with a current ranking of 28. On the ATP website his bio describes his playing style as “punchy ground strokes, a booming serve and sauntering athleticism” The 6′ 6″ Sascha can follow up a 130 mph first serve with a 120mph second. At the pre-Wimbledon Boodles Tennis event in June this year he beat world No.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets and signed my sketch.
In May this year, Jesse Eisenberg’s dark comedy THE SPOILS transferred from its New York premiere run to London’s Trafalgar Studios for a three month season. Not all the original cast ventured to the West End, but joining Jesse and THE BIG BANG THEORY’s Kunal Nayyar was Annapurna Sriram who played Reshma, Kunal’s pushy medical student girlfriend. Annapurna, or Anna or AP as she is often called, explained the reason for reprising her role. “Reshma is something I am really proud of – that’s my role, my baby. I didn’t like the idea of someone else doing it.” It’s her second visit to London, having spent time at The Globe studying Shakespeare after competing her Arts Degree from Rutgers University.
She came to prominence in the 2015 supernatural horror series SOUTH OF HELL and more recently as Tara Mohr, the hard-partying employee of US Attorney Chuck Rhodes played by Paul Giamatti in the Showtime hit TV series BILLIONS.
Brooklyn-based Annapurna is Indian-American, which she said has helped her acting career. “We’re in a day and age where being ethnically ambiguous – which is what I am – is a commodity”. I meet the very amiable Anna at the Trafalgar Studio’s stage door a couple of weeks before the play finished in mid-August, where she took a photo of my drawing then signed it for me.
Carole King is one of the most influential songwriters of our time. Her second of 25 solo albums,’Tapestry’ is one of the best selling records of all time with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. It won four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year. Carole became the first solo female artist to win Song of the Year (‘You’ve Got A Friend’) and Record of the Year (‘It’s Too Late’). It remained on the Billboard Charts for 313 weeks, second only to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon”. Carole has been named the most successful songwriter for the period 1955-1999, writing or co-writing 118 Billboard Chart Hits. She has also taken the same honour in the UK with 61 hits between 1952-2005.
I drew this sketch of Carole last year and hoped to get it signed when she attended the opening of BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at the Aldwych Theatre in London in February 2015, but didn’t manage to get there. Carole also played Hyde Park this summer, but it’s a difficult venue to get graphs and stalking hotels is not part of my MO. So I did the old fashioned thing and sent it to her at her production studio in California and it came back signed and dedicated in next to no time.
The tall bandana-wearing Spanish tennis ace Carlos Moya won the French open in 1998 and was a semi-finalist at the US Open in 1998. In March the following year he climbed to No.1 in the world rankings. He also reached the Australian open final in 1997, losing to Pete Sampras. In 2004 he was part of the Spanish Davis Cup-winning team, securing victory with a win over Andy Roddick for a 3-2 scoreline.
In a fifteen year career Carlos won 20 titles and just to include a miscellaneous fact for the ardent statisticians, served 4,416 aces. A nagging foot injury ended his career in 2010 and he now runs the SD Tennis Academy in Madrid and plays on the ATP Champions Tour. He is also coaches Milos Raonic, who reached the final of Wimbledon this year, where I caught up with him after a practice session While Carlos played tennis with a potent right hand he writes left-handed and demonstrated that with his graph on my drawing.
Joseph Alberic Twiselton-Wykeham-Fiennes simply signs Joe Fiennes. Just as well. He signed two sketches for me earlier this year while playing T E Laurence in Terrance Rattigan’s bio-drama ROSS at the Chichester Festival Theatre. The first was him in the Laurance of Arabia role and the second was this montage from two productions in which he played the title. Joe’s first professional stage appearance was in the West End in THE WOMAN IN BLACK in 1993, followed by A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY opposite Helen Mirren and John Hurt, which I was lucky enough to see. Joe has also appeared in some high profile films, including ELIZABETH and the Bard himself in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, for which he earned BAFTA and SAG Best Actor nominations.
In September 2005 he played George Dillion in EPITAPH FOR GEORGE DILLON at the Comedy Theatre and Cyrano in CYRANO DE BERGERAC at Chichester in 2009 which are both depicted in my drawing.
By her own admission British comedian Ellie Taylor started in comedy quite late. The thirty something comic was in her late 20’s when, after seeing a friend perform a five-minute stand-up routine, became a contestant on the ITV talent-reality show SHOW ME THE FUNNY, reaching the semi-finals. Asked why she chose comedy over her marketing day job, she replied, “arrogance, neediness and boredom.” She told BIG ISSUE, “I want to be a professional show off.
Her 2014 Edinburgh Fringe debut show ELLIEMENTARY played to packed crowds at The Laughing Horse. Although Ellie points out it was her ‘debut hour show’. She did do a half-hour gig the previous year, but this was her full, proper debut. You get the picture. She followed that success with a national tour in the spring of 2015. Ellie continued to make an impact on the small screen, hosting BBC Three’s SNOG MARRY AVOID? and has also appeared on MOCK THE WEEK and 8 OUT OF 10 CATS. She described the daunting task of working with some of UK’s great comedians as an excellent way to “shit oneself discreetly.”
This drawing of Ellie is based on her publicity pic for ELLIEMENTARY. She was doing a one night stand-up at London’s Comedy Store in early July before taking her INFIDELITY show to this year’s EdFringe. I passed by earlier in the day when the venue was closed, but luckily a staff member was have a siggy break outside the front door, which was a siggy break for me because he said he would pass it on and he obviously did.
Minsk-born ballerina Ksenia Ovsyanick was awarded a scholarship to study at the English Royal Ballet School in London after performing at the 2005 Prix de Lausanne. After graduating three years later she joined the company, becoming a Soloist in 2014. This year she left the ENB to become a Principal with the Berlin Staatsballett which starts its 2016/17 season this weekend.
One of the highlights of her time at the English Ballet was performing the title role in the World Premiere of FIREBIRD at the London Coliseum in March 2012 as part of the BEYOND BALLET RUSSES programme. This sketch is based on that role with Ksenia wearing the distinctive headdress and winged harness. She signed it for me at the ENB before leaving for Germany.
British actor and singer Jamie Parker plays the title role in J K Rowling’s eighth instalment of the boy wizard’s adventures, HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS 1 AND 2. It’s set nineteen years after the events of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. Harry is no longer a boy. He’s middle-aged with a family and working for the Ministry of Magic as the stressed-out Head of Magical Law Enforcement. His son Albus follows in his footsteps at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The two-part play written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany based on an original story by them and J K Rowling, took the West End by storm this year, opening at the Palace Theatre on 30 July and smashing all box-office records.
Thirty-six year old Jamie, who performed in Alan Bennett’s THE HISTORY BOYS on Broadway and London said that POTTER was ‘a gig of a lifetime’. I caught up with him at the stage door a couple of weeks back as he was arriving for a Saturday matinee and he signed this sketch.