Alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Vladimir Vasiliev and Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered one of the greatest ballet dancers in history. He returned to the London stage last week, not as a dancer, but reading the poetry of Nobel Laurate Joseph Brodsky, who was one of the first people Mikhail meet in New York when he defected from the Soviet Union in 1974.
Joseph was a huge influence on ‘Misha’ In the years the later revolutionised and popularised ballet as a performer and choreographer, while launching a successful parallel career as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination playing Yuri Kopeikine in the 1977 film THE TURNING POINT. Their relationship forms the basis for Latvian director Alvin Hermanis’s experimental theatre piece, BRODSKY/BARYSHNIKOV in which Mikhail reads his friend’s poetry in the original Russian. After productions in Riga, Te Aviv and New York Mikhail, performed the show for five nights at the Apollo Theatre in London, where I managed to meet him at the stage door and he signed my sketch.
She’s a household name in the Netherlands, and now Dutch actress Halina Reijn makes her first performing English speaking role in London in Ivo van Hove’s stage adaption of Luchino Visconti’s 1943 Italian neo-realism film OBSESSION at the Barbican.
It’s part of the multi-award winning Belgian director’s Avante Garde Theatre company, Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s four play residency at the London venue. Halina is Hanna, the abused wife of a bullying hotel proprietor, who has a passionate love affair with drifter Gino played by Jude Law.
“Reijn in some ways is even more extraordinary,” wrote Michael Billington in the Guardian. “She starts with the right air of anguished solitude, is quickened into life by the presence of the charismatic stranger and later sets about reordering her existence with a conscienceless practicality. It says something about Law and Reijn that, for a moment, I saw the couple as a modern version of the Macbeth.”
I met the very engaging Halina before last Saturday’s matinee and she was more than happy with my drawing and signed it. The production, which runs until 20 May, screens nationwide in selected UK cinemas tonight as part of National Theatre Live.
Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincai made his international debut as MacDuff in Verdi’s MACBETH at the Hamburg State Opera in January 2009 and later that year first appeared at the Royal Opera House, playing Rodolfo in LA BOHEME. He returned to Covent Garden last month as Lieutenant Pinkerton opposite Ana Maria Martinez in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, where he signed my drawing.
Australian actress Annette Andre appeared in a number of high profile British TV shows in the 1960’s and 70’s, including THE AVENGERS, THE SAINT and THE PRISIONER, with her longest running role as Marty Hopkirk’s widow Jeannie in the Private detective series RANDALL AND HOPKIRK (DECEASED). She starred alongside Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope who played private detectives Jeffrey Randall and Martin Hopkirk respectively, the later returning as a ghost after he was murdered while investigating a case. Annette was speaking at the Museum Of Comedy in London a couple of weeks ago about the show and her career. I managed to catch up with her afterwards and she signed this Jeannie portrait for me.
Half a century after it’s premiere on the Old Vic stage, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, the philosophical tragicomedy play that made a young Tom Stoppard’s name overnight, returned to the same venue with Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire in the title roles. Originally booked until the end of April, the season has been extended until this weekend due to popular demand.
It’s the ultimate identity crisis when two hapless minor characters, flipping coins while watching Shakespeare’s HAMLET from the wings. In his four-star review the Guardian’s Michael Billington said, “Radcliffe is perfectly matched by Joshua McGuire in a nimble hire-wire act that balances quickfire humour with a poignant awareness of death.” Both Dan and Joshua signed my sketch a couple of weeks ago after a Saturday evening performance at the Old Vic.
Monty Python’s Michael Palin is referred to as ‘Britain’s nicest man’. In his 2009 Telegraph interview with Marc Lee, entitled ‘He’s not a Messiah, but a very nice man’, Michael said it was because of his “amenable conciliatory character.”
After university he teamed up with fellow Oxford graduate Terry Jones to write for TV shows such as the RIPPING YARNS, DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET and THE FROST REPORT, which was the first time all the British Python’s – Michael, Terry and John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman worked together before creating the iconic MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS. They were joined by Terry Gilliam who was an American citizen.
After that Michael journeyed to all corners of the planet many times over as a travel writer and documentarian. His career has also been sprinkled with notable film appearances, including his BAFTA-winning supporting role as Ken Pile in 1988’s A FISH CALLED WANDA. It was the first of four BAFTA’s awarded to Michael. In 2013 he was the given the Fellowship the British Academy’s highest honour. I did this Python/Wanda montage and dropped it into his London agent’s office where Britain’s nicest man signed it for me with a nice inscription.
Puerto Rican-American soprano Ana Maria Martinez returned to Covent Garden last month to play the lead role of Cio-Cio-San in the Royal Opera’s production of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Since making her Royal Opera debut as Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI in 2002, Ana Maria has starred in a number of productions including MADAMA BUTTERFLY when she replaced the ill Alexia Voulgaridou in 2015. She is very familiar with the character of Cio-Cio-San, having also performed the part for the Metropolitan Opera and the Barvarian and the Vienna State Operas among others.Ana Maria signed my sketch after the final night performance in London last week.
At the height of his success in the early 1990’s, British impresario extraordinaire Sir Cameron Mackintosh was described by the New York Times as “the most successful, influential and powerful theatrical producer in the world.”
For the past fifty years he has produced more musicals than anyone else in history and the three longest running musical productions – LES MISERABLES, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and CATS , as well as OLIVIER! and MISS SAIGON. Not bad for someone who started out as a stagehand at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Although I had met Sir Cameron on a few occasions I had never drawn him, so I did just that and dropped it into his London office and he immediately returned it with this very complimentary note.