Dianne Pilkington’s impressive stage career began in 1997 when became a cast member in the West End production of LES MISERABLES, including understudying the role of Fantine. After the UK tour of CATS, Dianne was selected to portray Glinda in the musical WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in 2007. From 2013-2016 she played Donna Sheridan in MAMMA MIA! at the Novello Theatre. This month Dianne began the West End run of Mel Brook’s musical version of his 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the Garrick Theatre, playing Frederick Frankenstein’s fiancée Elizabeth Benning. Dianne signed my drawing after Saturday’s matinee.
After a ten year hiatus, Christian Slater has returned to the West End in the revival of David Mamet’s landmark 1983 drama GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, which is currently in previews, opening on 9 November at the Playhouse Theatre. Last seen in the business satire SWIMMING WITH SHARKS at the Vaudeville in 2007, Christian made his London stage debut as the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy in Dale Wasserman’s adaption of Ken Kesey’s cult novel ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST at the Gielgud in 2004. He reprised the role for a return season two years later at the Garrick. Christian very kindly met a few of us waiting at the Playhouse stage door after the first GLENGARRY matinee and signed my CUCKOO’s NEST sketch.
The STRICTLY COME DANCING judge Craig Revel Horwood is dividing his time these days between the popular BBC show at Elstree Studios and his role as the tyrannical orphanage manager Miss Hannigan in the musical ANNIE at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End. He took over from role from Miranda Hart in mid-September for a limited 10 week run (minus Saturdays).
The Australian-born British dancer, choreographer and theatre director’s West End credits include CATS, MISS SAIGON, CHESS, CRAZY FOR YOU and SUNSET BOULEVARD. But it is his STRICTLY appearance as one of the original and most formidable judges since the show’s inception in 2004 that TV viewers know him best.
In 2012, commenting on KImberley Walsh’s dance routine he said it was “indecent, improper, absolute filth… and I loved it!” Craig is also known for his catch phrases. A common utterance is ‘Fab-u-Lous’ with the syllables of each word articulated in three separate words. He included it in the dedication on this signed sketch I drew of him as Miss H, left at the theatre last week.
The ‘gentle giant’, 6′ 3′ American singer and actor Shuler Hensley revived his role as the Monster in Mel Brook’s musical version of his 1974 YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN when it opened at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End this month. It’s a role he originated on Broadway in 2007, earning a Tony nomination before continuing the part for the US National tour.
Schuler is no stranger to London audiences, winning the Olivier Award for his portrayal of Jud Fry in OKLAHOMA at the National Theatre in 1998, before transferring a year later to the Lyceum in the West End. In 2002 it crossed the Atlantic to Broadway’s George Gershwin Theatre where he continued his winning ways, collecting the Tony in the process. Shuler signed my Monster sketch at the Garrick stage door on Saturday on his way in for the matinee.
Best known to TV audiences for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane in the sitcoms CHEERS and FRASIER, Kelsey Grammer is making his London stage debut next week in BIG FISH THE MUSICAL, based on the Tim Burton film, at The Other Palace. No stranger to the boards, Kelsey’s first Broadway role was Lennox in MACBETH, taking over the lead in 1981. It wasn’t until April 2010, however that he did his first Broadway musical, playing Georges in a revival of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, collecting a Tony Award nomination for his performance.
In fact, for major awards, Kelsey has received 45 nominations, winning 18, including five Emmys and three Golden Globes. He was the first American actor to win nominations for the same character on three different television shows- CHEERS, FRASIER and a one-off crossover appearance in WINGS. He collected his only Tony win to date for producing THE COLOUR PURPLE last year.
It was great to catch up with Kelsey last week in London, while he was rehearsing for BIG FISH. He is one of the nicest people I have met in the business and was more than happy to sign my drawing of him.
Playwright of the moment, James Graham currently has two plays featuring in the West End, only doors apart on St Martin’s Lane. INK, the story of the Sun newspaper opened at the Duke of York’s in September after transferring from the Almeida Theatre and at the Noel Coward Theatre, his take on the Labour party’s thorny past, LABOUR OF LOVE opened earlier this month with Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig in the lead roles.
It’s very rare to have a new play open directly into the West End without a prior try-out lelsewhere. Martin plays David Lyons, Oxford educated Blairite MP for the East Midlands and Tamsin is Jean Whittaker, the long-time constituency office agent of the staunch leftie old guard persuasion. Described as a political romcom, LABOUR OF LOVE is set on the night of the 2017 election night rewinding back through the party’s history over the previous 27 years.
It’s full of gags such as this one when Jean comments on the party selecting the red rose when rebranding in the nineties, “it looks pretty, but it’s full of pricks.” Both Martin and Tamsin signed this sketch for me last weekend at the stage door.
British golfer Charley Hull is one of the rising stars on the women’s International golf scene. Introduced to the game at the age of two, the twenty-one year old turned professional in 2013, becoming the youngest player to compete in the Solheim Cup. She was part of the first European squad to win on US soil and was named Rookie of the Year She was also voted Best Newcomer by the Sports Journalists Association. In 2014 Charley became a champion on the European circuit before the age of 18 and was named the European Ladies Player of the Year. Last year she won the prestigious season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Charley signed this sketch for me while competing at the Scottish Open at the Dundonald Links in Ayr in July.
English actress Lesley Joseph sobbed… but in a good way, when she found out she had won the role of housekeeper and superannuated lover of the original Doctor F Frau Boucher in Mel Brook’s new West End stage production of his 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. “Oh my God I’m going to be working with Mel Brooks!”
Lesley became an international name as Dorian Green in the British TV sitcom BIRDS OF A FEATHER and recently as a contestant on STRICTLY COME DANCING with partner Anton Du Beke. In his four-star review for The Independent, Paul Taylor wrote, “Lesley Joseph brings a superb hatchet-faced obsessiveness to Frau Blucher and her idiotic goose-stepping devotion to the memory of the violent older Frankenstein.”
Lesley signed my Frau B sketch going into the Garrick Theatre for Saturday’s matinee.