Sketch: Katie Brayben in Beautiful, Aldwych Theatre

Katie Brayben

West End’s newest leading lady, Katie Brayben, has just been nominated for an Olivier Award for her role as the legendary singer songwriter Carole King in Beautiful – the Carole King Musical.

Katie’s nod for Best Actress in a Musical is one of eight for the show, “I am absolutely over the moon,” she told Digital Spy.

Katie doesn’t read reviews, so in case she’s reading this, I won’t spoil it for her, other than to say her Olivier nomination would have the unanimous support of all the critics.

One of the most successful songwriters in pop music history, Carole King’s life story has been transformed into a hit Broadway musical, with 7 Tony nominations, winning Best Leading Actress for Jessie Mueller.

Carole was one of Katie’s idols and actually appeared at the curtain call on the press night. When Katie was signing my sketch at the stage door after Saturday’s matinee, I asked her if she knew Carole would be there and she said, “no, if I had known, I wouldn’t have been able to do it!”

Drawing: Ian Redford and Trudie Styler in A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson

styler and redford

Arguably “the most distinguished man of letters in English history” was Dr Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, lexicographer and the man who gave us the English dictionary.

After nine years work, Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755. It was considered on of the greatest single achievements of scholarship and until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later was the pre-eminent British dictionary.

He is the subject of A Dish of Tea With Dr Johnson, a sellout at the Edinburgh Festival and a hit on tour.

Ian Redford’s moving central performance in the title role was “detailed and touching”. Johnston “was a man ravaged by melancholy and anxieties but capable of articulate speeches” and “darts of wit”.

Joining Ian as the high society hostess and Johnson’s final unrequited love, Mrs Thrale, was Trudie Styler. She was “dug out of retirement by director Max Stafford-Clark to return to the West End with a part that “instantly won her over… she got to come on stage in an 18th century costume and provide the fireworks fo the last 20 minutes.

Both Ian and Trudie signed my sketch in the lobby of London’s Arts Theatre, prior to the evening performance on 12 September 2011.