“There’s no business like shoe business,” was the pun that a few reviewers couldn’t resist using after Jerry Mitchell’s runaway Broadway hit musical Kinky Boots danced into the Aldephi Theatre in London’s West End this month. Adapted by Harvey Fierstein with songs by veteran pop star and activist Cyndi Lauper, it received 13 Tony nominations, winning six, including Best Musical and Best Score. Based on the British film of 2005 starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and inspired by true events documented in the BBC’s Trouble at the Top:The Kinky Boot Factory, ittells the tale of Charlie Price, (Killian Donnelly) the reluctant heir to a struggling Northampton shoe factory. As he starts laying off some of the staff, one of them, the passionate and quirky Lauren (Amy Lennox) tells him that the only way to survive is to enter an ‘underserved niche market.’ A chance meeting with drag queen Lola (Matt Henry) confirms this and convinces Charlie that there is a future in flashy, thigh-length boots or as she salaciously describes “two-and-a-half-feet of irresistible tubular sex.”
On the first Saturday after a successful press night I strolled to the stage door in my affordable 4B-pencil grey canvas sneakers-I’m such a slave to fashion-and waited with a sizeable group in a variety of footwear for the cast to emerge after the matinee. I did this sketch of Killian, Matt and Amy and hoped to get it graphed. A number of Lola’s Angels came out still wearing the remnents of stage make-up, so it started to resemble a Pride Parade, as did Matt who was very gracious about the drawing. Killian followed. He had signed a sketch for me before from his Olivier-nominated role in Memphis.Two done,one to go. I don’t think Amy was intending to come down, but Matt told her about my drawing. The security person, in a shiny pair of black boots beckoned me to the door and Amy, who had also previously signed one of my renderings was waiting for me.
Love never dies… and rain-soaked paper always dries
LOVE NEVER DIES – the long awaited sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s mega-musical PHANTOM OF THE OPERA opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End on 9 March 2010, following previews from late February.
It featured Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in the lead roles and is set a decade on from the original when the Phantom becomes ‘Mr Y’, the mysterious owner of a Coney Island pleasure park who lures Christine back for a well paid gig.
I positioned myself at the shelterless Adelphi stage door on the rainy night of the World Premiere with this sketch. Ramin and Sierra did sign another one later, on a drier evening, which I’ve previously posted. But this one got the liquid treatment, giving a less than desired ripple effect across its surface. However, due to the positioning of a kind patron’s sole umbrella and the ever reliable, quick-drying spirit-based Sharpie pen that didn’t run or smudge, I managed to get it signed which was a note-worthy performance in itself.
The old adage, ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person,’ certainly applies to pioneering English theatre director Rupert Goold. The artistic director of London’s Almeida Theatre and associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company had two hit shows open weeks apart on the West End. After premiering at the Almeida, Mike Bartlett’s controversial play King Charles III transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre on Charring Cross Road. It confronts the difficult question of what will happen when the Queen dies and a possible constitutional crisis ensues.
Rupert also directs the new musical Made in Dagenham with Gemma Arterton leading a feisty feminist strike force at the Ford auto factory in the east London suburbs. It’s the stage version of the popular feel good 2010 movie and opened on Guy Fawkes night this week.
As is custom, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a slice of theatre. The precedent is a Shakespeare play, but this year for a slight deviation we went and saw King Charles III, which pays homage to the Bard, written in a blank verse style. I did this sketch of Rupert winning his Olivier a while back. He won the 2008 award for Best Director for the acclaimed Minerva Studio staging of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart in the title role.
It just so happened I had it in my bag that night – the same evening Made in Dagenham had its press night. Another deviation as we strolled to the train station, past the Adelphi Theatre stage door, where only minutes later the said director appeared with a large grin, indicating a successful opening (the show, not his mouth). A good time to get my sketch signed, which he was more than happy to do.
I immediately congratulated him on Charles III, which in hindsight seemed an odd thing to say at the premiere of his other show. That’s what happens when you’re the busiest director in town!
Summer Strallen is the second of the four hugely talented Strallen sisters. She has been nominated for four Olivier Awards. One was for her performance as Meg Giry in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera at the Adelphi Theatre.
It was a role that won her the Broadwayworld.com UK Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and she was also nominated for the Whatsonstage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
I did this black biro sketch during Summer’s season as Meg which ran through 2010 and early into 2011, which she signed at the stage door.
Bond girl and BAFTA nominated Brit actress Gemma Arterton is currently on stage playing Rita O’Grady, the lead in the new musical Made in Dagenham which started previews earlier this month and opens at London’s Adelphi Theatre on 5 November.
Based on the film of the same name, it tells the story of sexual discrimination at the Ford car plant in Dagenham, Essex and the 1968 sewing machinists’ strike in which 850 female workers took on the might of the motoring giant and the corruption of the union supposed to protect them.
Directed by Olivier Award winner Rupert Goold, it is written by Richard Bean with music by Bond composer David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas.
Gemma has always been very generous with signing my theatre drawings, from The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick, The Master Builder at the Almeida, and The Duchess of Malfi at the Globe. However, after the first Saturday evening performance of Dagenham, the large gathering of ‘graphers at the stage door were told, “programmes and tickets only”.
This was the first time I had sketched Gemma in lead – previously only in ink in various applications – so I was keen to have it signed. True to form, she did make an execption for the sketch and signed it for me. If the audience are anything to go by, the show will be a smash hit. It is booked to run until March next year.
Denise van Outen’s most memorable musical role was the vaudevillian murderess Roxie Hart in the hit musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End in 2001. The twenty week run completely sold out. She reprised the role on Broadway in the spring of 2002, before returning to the London production.
Denise signed this sketch I did of her in the role at the Arts Theatre in London after he performance in the one woman musical play Some Girl I Used To Know which she also wrote with Terry Ronald.
Love Never Dies – the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s long running musical The Phantom of the Opera opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End on 9 March 2010. Ramin Karimloo played the title role with Sierra Boggess as Christine. They coined the term ‘Rierra’. Ramin was the Phantom in the original West End production and the show’s 21st anniversary Phantom in 2007.
Sierra was cast in the Las Vegas production of Phantom in the role of Christien Daaé at the Venetian Resort in 2006. Both Ramin and Sierra were nominated for Olivier Awards, and the production received seven nominations. They signed by sketch after the world premiere at the Adelphi Theatre stage door in pouring rain on 9 March 2010.
One Man, Two Guvnors opened at London’s National Theatre in 2011. Written by Richard Bean and directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner it is a British adaption of The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni (1743) and set in 1963 Brighton.
It transferred to the Adelphi Theatre in November 2011, where James Corden, Oliver Chris and Jemima Rooper signed my sketch. After closing in February 2012, it premiered on Broadway’s Great White Way at the Music Box Theatre until September.
The play was nominated for seven Tony Awards, with James winning for Best Actor.
Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball won every major award in the acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at London’s Adelphi Theatre, including the Olivier for Best Actress and Actor in a musical respectively. They signed this sketch at the theatre for me in May 2012.