Drawing: Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev

Autographed drawing of tennis player Alexander 'Sascha' Zverev

The youngest tennis player in the Top 10, Alexander Zverev, ranked #4, caused a major upset on Sunday, beating World #1, Novak Djokovic in straight sets to claim the biggest title of his career, the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2.

Known as ‘Sascha’ (a common Russian nickname for Alexander) the twenty-one year old German of Russian descent, also beat Roger Federer in Saturday’s semis. Novak comfortably won their group stage match, but wins over John Isner and Marin Cilic secured Sascha’s advancement to the last four. He previously beat Novak in the 2017 Italian Open to claim his first Masters 1000 title and enter the top 10 for the first time. Coached by his father, Alexander Snr since the age of five, the team was joined in August this year by Ivan Lendl, who was influential in Sunday’s victory.

Sascha did sign a sketch for me this year at the O2, but this one was graphed and dedicated at last year’s year-ending tournament.

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Drawing: Maisie Williams in I and You

Autographed drawing of Maisie Williams in I and You at the Hampstead Theatre

Maisie Williams made her professional screen debut in 2011 as Arya Stark in the hit TV fantasy drama series GAME OF THRONES for which she was nominated for an Emmy five years later.

She made her stage debut last month as a surly, death-haunted teenager in Lauren Gunderson’s I AND YOU, at the Hampstead Theatre in North London along with fellow theatre debutant Zach Wyatt. The 21 year-old English actress plays Caroline, who is home bound by a life-threatening illness, but a book of Walt Whitman poems and an unlikely friendship changes things. It’s a two character, 90 minute study of adolescent confusions and cosmic mysteries, which WhatsOnStage calls “a joyous, well-crafted evening”.

“Maisie Williams is an unstoppable bundle of charisma”, wrote Fiona Mountford in her Evening Standard review.

Maisie kindly signed my sketch when she arrived for last Saturday’s matinee performance at the Hampstead. I AND YOU runs until 24 November.

Drawing: Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell – America

Autographed drawing of musicians Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, 'America'

The band AMERICA, formed in London in 1970 by high school mates Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and the late Dan Peek, sons of US Air Force personnel stationed in the English capital, returned to the city for their only UK gig last month at the London Palladium. It was one of the best live concerts I have ever seen. Their music was a big part of my teenage years.

Managed by the legendary George Martin, AMERICA, known for their close harmonies and light acoustic folk rock sound had a string of hit albums and singles throughout the 70’s culminating in one of my all-time favourite records, which instantly went platinum, HISTORY: AMERICA’S GREATEST HITS featuring their first international number 1, “A Horse With No Name” and “Tin Man” written by Dewey and Gerry respectively, along with “Sister Golden Hair”, “Sandman”, “Daisy Jane”, “Ventura Highway” and Dan’s “Lonely People.” In fact the albums pretty much made up the set list for the Palladium gig plus their great cover of the Mammas and the Pappas classic “California Dreamin'” and a salute to George with the Beatles cover of “Eleanor Rigby”.

I left this quick sketch of Gerry and Dewey at the Palladium Stage door and was very happy to receive it back signed. A very nice memento for a very memorable evening.

Drawing: Aimee Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel in Six the Musical

Autographed drawing of Aimee Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O'Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel in Six the Musical on London's West End

The ‘intoxicating Tudor take-off’, SIX THE MUSICAL by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss tells the tales of Henry VIII’s six wives, from their perspective, transforming from Queens to pop princesses, remixing five hundred years of her-storical heartbreak. It’s promoted as ‘a 75 minute celebration of sisterly sassitude.’ After an earlier, limited West End run, followed by a brief UK tour, then a month long sell-out residency at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SIX returned to London’s Arts Theatre for an extended season.

Writing in The Times, Ann Treneman said “I predict a hit” and she was right. The soundtrack album passed two million streams a week ago and the production has been nominated for four Broadway World UK Awards, including Best Ensemble to start the theatre gongs season. “The grand surprise, though is just how gloriously-persuasively-coherent, confident and inventive the whole thing is. The upfront (feminist) thesis is to take us beyond the rudiments of that kindergarten mnemonic, Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” wrote Dominic Cavendish in his four-star review for the Telegraph.

The slick, kick-ass girl band members, Jarneia Richard-Noel (Catherine of Aragon), Millie O’Connell (Anne Boleyn), Natalie Paris (Jane Seymour), Alexia McIntosh (Anne of Cleves), Aimee Atkinson (Catherine Howard) and Maiya Quansah-Breed (Catherine Parr) perform a diverse range of musical genres from pop to hip-hop, including some R&B in an unsisterly competition, where each sing a song to prove they are the biggest victim.

All six signed my head sketches in the final week at the Arts Theatre, before embarking on another UK tour, returning to the London venue early next year.

Drawing: Nana Mouskouri

Autographed drawing of singer Nana Mouskouri

Nana Mouskouri returned to London last month for a special concert at the Royal Festival Hall. The 84 year-old Greek singing legend and global music star was celebrating sixty years as a performer with her recently released album ‘Forever Young’, featuring covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Amy Winehouse and many more.

Because of her varied and multilingual repertoire, being fluent in many languages, Nana has become one of the biggest-selling female recording artists of all time, often called Europe’s answer to Barbara Streisand. Her distinctive voice is a product of having only one functioning vocal cord, ranging from a ‘ husky dark alto to a ringing coloratura mezzo’. Nana is also a UNICEF ambassador and from 1994-1999 was an elected member of the European Parliament.

I left this sketch at the Royal Festival Hall for Nana to sign and a few weeks later it arrived back from Greece, signed and dedicated. Bravo!

Drawing: Ben Turner and John Pfumojena in The Jungle

Autographed drawing of Ben Turner in The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre on London's West End

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s remarkable and courageous play, THE JUNGLE, regarded as one of most vital and important productions to be staged over the past year, has just completed its hugely successful run at London’s Playhouse Theatre, after an initial a sell-out season at the Young Vic and a cluster of five-star reviews. Next month it opens at St Anne’s Warehouse in New York.

THE JUNGLE follows the hopes and despair of the inhabitants of Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp the Calais Jungle on the northern coast of France, which became the home for more than 10,000 people in 2015. The majority of the original 18 strong cast will be transferring including Ben Turner and John Pfumojena. British-Iranian actor Ben, best known to TV viewers as the nurse Jay Faldren in BBC’s CASULTY and Louis XV in DOCTOR WHO plays the proud but cranky chef Salar who runs the camps thriving Afghan cafe and distrusts the British.

“Ben Turner stands out as Salar, the owner of the Jungle’s main restaurant who fights deep-seated anger at the destruction of his native Afghanistan to become one of the camp’s leaders and peace-makers,” wrote Mark Ludmon in his British Theatre.com review.

Zimbabwean-born, London-based actor and musician John Pfumojena plays teenager Okot from Darfur in Western Sudan with “astonishing intensity of pain” according to the Independent’s Paul Taylor. Sarah Compton’s review for WhatsOnStage said that John provides “the play’s single most moving scene when he explains how his journey has changed him, obliterating the person he was even though he is still only 17.” John also composed the music for the production which The Stage’s JN Benjamin said “… is the beating heart of the show. John’s compositions unite audiences and actors through mellifluous harmonies.”

Both John and Ben signed their respective sketches on Saturday at the stage door, before the final matinee.

Autographed drawing of John Pfumojena in The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre on London's West End

Drawing: Olga Kurylenko

Autographed drawing of actress Olga Kurylenko

A ‘rendering on the run’… a literal two-minute sketch of actress Ukranian-born actress Olga Kurylenko. I found out she was attending the special screening of Rowan Atkinson’s latest installment of the spy comedy JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN at the Curzon Mayfair last month so did this quick line drawing for her to graph at the event, which she did.

Olga has kindly signed a couple of my previous sketches while she was filming her international breakthrough role as Bolivian secret service agent Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008. Olga, a trained ballerina, was discovered as a model in Moscow at the age of 13 and moved to Paris to pursue that career path three years later, eventually swaping the catwalk for the screen. Fluent in Russian, French and English, she is now a French citizen who has resided in London since 2009.

Drawing: Moeen Ali

Autographed drawing of cricketer Moeen Ali

One of cricket’s most popular players is the England all-rounder Moeen Ali. Known fondly as ‘The Beard that’s Feared’, Moeen is a Muslim of Pakistani descent born in Birmingham. He signed for Warwickshire County team in 2004 at the age of 15, making his first class debut the following year.

Moeen bats left-handed and bowls right-arm off-breaks. While he built a reputation as an elegant batsman, it was his off-spin bowling that earned him the call-up to the England side in 2014 after the surprise retirement of Graeme Swan. He made his test debut against Sri Lanka at Lords and scored his maiden test ton in the second test at Headingly, unbeaten on 108 when England went within two balls of saving the series with Jimmy Anderson bowled off the penultimate ball.

Moeen plays in all formats for the National side. Earlier in 2014 he was selected for the ODI series in the West Indies and the World T20 in Bangladesh a few weeks later. He has 5 Test and 3 ODI centuries with a highest score of 155 and 128 respectively and 72 in T20. His best test figures are 6/53 against South Africa at Lords in 2017. Moeen’s charity work includes being an Ambassador for ‘StreetChance’, which holds free weekly cricket coaching clinics for deprived children across the UK.

Moeen signed my sketch after England’s victory over India in the 5th and final test of the series at the Kia Oval in September.

Drawing: Jack Lowden in Ghosts

Autographed drawing of Jack Lowden in Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre and Trafalgar Studios on London's West End

Scottish actor Jack Lowden won the Olivier Award for his harrowing portrayal of an ailing and anguished artist in Richard Eyre’s London revival of Ibsen’s GHOSTS. Initially staged at the Almeida in the Autumn of 2013, the production transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End, concluding in March 2014. Jack played Oswald Alving opposite Lesley Manville (who also won the Olivier) as Helen,his widowed mother. He has inherited syphilis from his lecherous late father and as his heath deteriorates, returns home from living as a painter in Paris, where falls for the maid Regina, who turns out to be his philandering father’s illegitimate daughter.

The subject matter of religion, general disease, incest and euthanasia, “caused an explosion of outrage and critical venom,” said the director, when it was first staged in 1882 in the US. In his five-star review for the Telegraph, Charles Spencer wrote, “Jack Lowden, big, shambolic and increasingly distraught as her bohemian artist son conveys the ugly, egotism of the chronically sick and the sheer terror of his terrible illness. The plays closing moments are almost too upsetting to watch.”

Jack is currently back on the London stage after enjoying his first major international onscreen success in the 2016 BBC miniseries WAR AND PEACE. He stars opposite Hayley Atwell in Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE at the Donmar Warehouse, Josie Rourke’s final production as artistic director for the intimate Covent Garden venue. In a unique gender-reversal, Jack and Hayley alternate the roles of Angelo and Isabella during the play. Jack signed my sketch when he arrived for last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Martin McDonagh

Autographed drawing of writer Martin McDonagh

Anglo-Irish playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh’s latest stage play A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER opened last week at London’s Bridge Theatre. Set in Copenhagen, it delves behind the dark sources of the beloved fairytales of Danish children’s author Hans Christian Anderson.

Martin is a person I admire greatly. With no formal training he wrote a stack of plays in 1990s that made him one of the most celebrated new English-language dramatists of his generation. The first six, separated into two trilogies, are located in and around County Galway on Ireland’s western seaboard, where he spent most of his childhood holidays. His first non-Irish play, THE PILLOWMAN was staged at the National Theatre in 2003, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play and was also Tony nominated in 2005. He had previously won the Olivier for THE LIEUTENANT OF INISMORE and collected his third for HANGMEN in 2016. He is yet to win a Tony after four nominations.

Martin has stated that it’s the screen, not the stage that is his favourite medium. In that realm, he is very very very much in demand after his third feature, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, which he wrote and directed, featured heavily during the latest awards season with seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay. It won five BAFTAs from nine nominations, winning Best Film and Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay for Martin who also claimed the producing, writing and directing Golden Globes. He’s no stranger to film awards. His screenplay for his first feature, IN BRUGES (2008) won the BAFTA and he received his fourth nomination for an Oscar, which he won on his first attempt in 2005 for SIX SHOOTER in the Best Live Action Short category.

I was very very very pleased to meet Martin at the World Premiere of A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER at the Bridge Theatre last week where he signed my sketch.