Drawing: Klodi Dabkiewicz in La Soirée

Autographed drawing of Klodi Dabkiewicz in La Soiree at the Aldwych Theatre on London's West End

Fifteen years after its Edinburgh Fringe beginning as LA CLIQUE, the Olivier Award-winning Australian-born variety show LA SOIRÉE has reached the West End. The traditional Aldwych Theatre has been transformed into an intimate cabaret club, described as a ‘head-spinning cocktail of sauce, silliness and spectacle – the thrill of the risqué upping that of the risky.’

One of the acts is Polish-born acrobat and circus artist Klodi Dabkiewicz. A former champion rhythmic gymnast who has performed around the globe, including Franco Dragone’s famous ‘House of Dancing Water’ in Macau, China. She is part of Syndicate Circus and a regular on the UK Cabaret circuit. Along with Leon Fagbemi they perform a steamy and seductive hand-to-hand, with ‘mind-bending flexibility.’ Klodi signed this sketch for me last week at the theatre.

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Sketch: Lorna Want and Ian McIntosh in Beautiful

Lorna Want and Ian McIntosh in Beautiful

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, the untold story of the legendary singer’s journey from school girl to superstar, opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre earlier this year.

It was nominated for eight Olivier Awards, winning two at last month’s ceremony for Katie Brayben in the title role and Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil, who along with her partner Barry Mann became Carole King’s songwriting peers and best friends. Also included in the Olivier nominations was Ian McIntosh’s performance as Mann in the Best Supporting Role in a Musical catagory. The show includes some of their songs, such as Up On The Roof and On Broadway.

I left this drawing of  Lorna and Ian in their respective roles at the theatre and it came back, signed and dedicated. Beautiful!

Sketch: Glynis Barber in Beautiful, Aldwych Theatre

Glynis Barber

British actress Glynis Barber, best known for her small screen roles in hit eighties come series Dempsey and Makepeace, Blake’s 7, Eastenders and Emerdale. She’s currently on the West End stage playing Genie Klein (Carole King’s Mum) in the London production of the Broadway hit Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre.

Carole’s album Tapestry has sold more than 25 million copies and the musical focuses on her route to success between the ages of 16 and 29, as part of the hit songwriting team with husband Gerry Goffin.

Glynis is a lifelong fan of Carole King. She doesn’t sing, but loves the fact that she will get to hear Carole King music all year. Initially booking till 13 June, the show has extended its run due to popular demand until February next year. It has also just been nominated for 8 Olivier Awards.

Drawing: Ben Miles, Nathaniel Parker, Lydia Leonard and Paul Jesson in Wolf Hall / Bring Up The Bodies

Wolf Hall Bring Up The Bodies

After selling out its RSC premiere at Stratford, acclaimed productions of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies made their London transfer to the Aldwych Theatre in May. Both plays are running in repertory until September.

The double bill, adapted by dramatist Mike Poulton and directed by Jeremy Herrin, tell the compelling story of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, in the court of Henry VIII. He was Britain’s original working class hero, according to the author.

The adaptions compress 1,246 pages of print into five and a half hours of stage time with the complex interactions of 70 characters, seven of whom are annoyingly called Thomas.

Hilary won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and repeated the success with Bring Up The Bodies in 2012. They are the first two parts of Hilary’s projected trilogy of Henry’s fixer – the third, The Mirror and the Light is currently being written “at haste”, as you read this.

Ben Miles plays Cromwell, Lydia Leonard is Anne Boleyn, Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII and Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey.

Mark Lawson in The Guardian says: “English ecclesiastical reform was driven by the King’s soul as well as his penis… Henry’s succession needs gave an opening to Protestant plotters in his court.”

Drawing: Alexander Hanson, Charlotte Spencer and Charlotte Blackledge in Stephen Ward – The Musical

Stephen Ward

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and directed by Richard Eyre, Stephen Ward centres on the title character’s involvement with the young showgirl Christine Keeler that lead to one of the biggest scandals and most famous trials of the 20th century.

On the 50th anniversary, it deals with Ward as the ‘victim’ who was set up as a scapegoat when the scandal put the skids under Macmillan’s government in 1963. The Telegraph’s critic Charles Spencer suggests, “A show that may well play a part in the current campaign to quash the society osteopath’s trumped up conviction for living on immoral earnings.”

Alexander Hanson plays the charming and suave well connected bachelor Stephen Ward. Charlotte Spencer is the glamorous Keeler, and Charlotte Blackledge is her bubbly friend Mandy Rice-Davies.

The London wind and rain kindly subsided to allow the three leads to sign my sketch at the uncovered Aldwych stage door after last night’s performance.