British actress Sophia McShera is no stranger to playing strong, fiery women. Known for roles as kitchen maid Daisy Robinson in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning TV series DOWNTON ABBEY and 6th form student Ros McCain in WATERLOO ROAD, Sophie returned to the West End as Jean Rice in the revival of John Osbourne’s THE ENTERTAINER, which has just concluded its run at the Garrick Theatre.
Her last play was back in 2011 when she played Pea opposite Mark Rylance in JERUSALEM at the Apollo. THE ENTERTAINER continues Sophie’s collaboration with Sir Kenneth Branagh in the final production of his Plays at the Garrick season. Sir Kenneth directed her as the nasty stepsister Drisella in the live action Disney film CINDERELLA.
I finally managed to meet Sophie as she left the theatre in the final week and she was happy to sign my drawing.
British actress Phoebe Sparrow returns to the London stage in Sean Foley’s revival of Ron Harwood’s THE DRESSER after making her debut in FATHER AND SONS at the Donmar Warehouse in June 2014. Phoebe plays the ambitious young actress Irene whose infatuation with ‘Sir’ and his growing reciprocation of her attention undermines Norman’s efforts to keep the company in order. As The Stage critic Mark Shenton puts it, “she put’s her legs up, to get a leg up.” Fans of the hit TV drama series DOWNTON ABBEY will be familiar with Phoebe’s recurring role as Amelia Cruickshank, Larry Grey’s fiancé.
I caught up with Phoebe after seeing the production at the Duke of York’s Theatre earlier in the month, where she signed this sketch for me.
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez makes ATP World Tour Finals debut this week at London’s O2. At 35 – which he says is 200 in tennis years – the current world No. 28 in singles teams up with fellow Spaniard and Lopez, Marc, to compete in the doubles.
They entered the Finals ranked the No.4 team, with Feliciano as the 9th best men’s doubles player on the planet. His highest ranking in the singles was No.12 last year.
Together with Marc they won this year’s French Open beating the Bryan brothers in the final. They also reached the US Open semi finals. The left-handler signed my sketch this week at the O2.
Another rising star on the men’s tennis circuit is the charming David Goffin, who is the alternate at this year’s ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2. ‘La Goff” as he is known did play a pool match, replacing an injured Gael Monfills against Novak Djokovic yesterday.
The 25 year-old right-handler has won two ATP titles. His breakthrough year was 2012, when he missed qualification for the French Open, but gained entry as the ‘lucky loser’, ironically replacing Gael again. He reached the final 16 before being beaten by a certain Roger Federer. This year he reached the quarter finals, attaining a career high No.11, which is his current ranking.
As a diligent alternate, David has been arriving first thing each day to practice with all the players. David is proof that you don’t have be a ‘physical monster’, as the TV commentary team described him, to be a top player. There’s hope for me yet. The charming 5′ 11” Belgian signed my sketch on his arrival earlier this week.
After a stellar year, young tennis player Dominic Thiem made his debut at the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals which started this week at London’s 02 arena. In spite of struggling during the latter part of the season, his four titles earlier in 2016 and a career high ranking of 7 enabled the 23 year-old to become the youngest player in the elite eight man field. Known for his aggressive baseline play, heavy ground strokes and a rare and impressive single-handed backhand. After losing, but taking a set off former No.1 Novak Djokovic in his opening match, Dominic showed his much heralded potential with a win over the stylish Frenchman Gael Monfils in his second pool match to keep his hopes alive of making the semis later in the week. I caught up with ‘The Dominator,’ as he’s nicknamed when he arrived from the clipper at the Greenwich Peninsula pier on Monday. The likeable and humble Austrian liked the drawing and was happy to sign and dedicate it for me.
It’s the ATP World Tour Finals time again and my chance to gather another harvest of signed tennis drawings. My first post is the older half of ‘the first family of British Tennis’, Jamie Murray, who along with younger brother, singles numerous uno Andy could both claim the year-end No 1 doubles and singles spots by end of this week.
Along with his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares, the thirty-year old Scottish left-handler has had an exceptional year, winning both the Australian and US Open titles. His other previous Grand Slam win was the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles with Jelena Jankovic in 2007. In spite of their 2016 success, Jamie and Bruno came into this Tour Finals seeded number 2, but after remaining unbeaten after two rounds have put themselves in the driving seat to take the title and end the year at the top men’s doubles rankings. Earlier in the year Jamie reached the doubles No 1 individual spot in the doubles but is currently No 4. He arrived at London’s 02 early yesterday for his match with the legendary Bryan brothers and said “Nice one” as he signed this sketch it for me.
“You get to solve a crime, meet Cher (as a bat) and fall in love with the women with Two Heads – it’s a damn good time!” said acclaimed comedian Alison Thea-Skot about her latest show IT’S THEA-SKOT IN HERE (SO TAKE OFF ALL YOUR CLOTHES), which had its sold out, five star run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe following her equally impressive SOME LIKE IT THEA-SKOT last year. Funny Women described her as “Everything an Edinburgh Fringe show should be, brave, silly, a little bit unhinged and very, very funny.” The British solo character comedian, actress, writer and improviser has moved extensively from Shakespeare’s Globe to the BBC’s Basil Brush. She was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 British Independent Film Festival for her role in DESIRE.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Chortle’s ‘comic genius’ after her one-night stand-up last week at London’s Museum of Comedy in the bowels of St George’s Church in Bloomsbury, where she signed this montage sketch for me.
I posted a signed drawing of Michael C Hall and Sophia Anne Caruso in Lazarus a few days ago. Both have reprised their roles in the David Bowie musical based on his film THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, which transferred from New York to London’s specially constructed pop-up Kings Cross Theatre this month. Because of the weather I was unable to stand at the stage door and get it graphed in person, so I actually left it for Sophia along with this sketch of her. Both came back signed along with a nice note thanking me. Fourteen year old Sophia auditioned for the part of the child woman Girl in secret because they only wanted actors over 18.
She said she was always in awe of David Bowie, so when she got a call ten minutes before her second call-back to say that her idol was present and that if she hurried she would sing for him. She moved like never before. He said ‘it was nice to meet me’,she recalled. Two days later, on her 15th birthday she got the part. On opening night David gave her a gold rocket pin and a card saying he appreciated her doing the role. The card was stolen, but she will always treasure the pin.
My wife and I have a Bard tradition of celebrating our wedding anniversary with a touch of Shakespeare. It can be one of his plays or a production that includes or is based on his work. This year we popped along to Sean Foley’s acclaimed revival of Ronald Harwood’s tragicomedy THE DRESSER at the Duke of York’s in London. The brilliant Scottish and Olivier Award winning actor Ken Stott is ‘Sir’, a fading ham actor who rolls through the regions during the second World War ‘giving’ his Lear, Othello and Richard III to the people. Like the Shakespearean monarch, he is in decline as his longtime and long suffering dresser Norman, wonderfully played by Reece Shearsmith, tries to get him through the evening’s performance of KING LEAR. Both Ken and Reece signed a sketch I did of them together. This one is Ken as Lear, which he graphed for me last night at the stage door.