In one of my rare departures from the 4B, I did this 2010 sketch of Cherry Jones and Sally Hawkins in the Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘problem play’ MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION in a black fine line Pilot pen. Actually it was part of my black-liner-with-the-rogue-biro-thrown-in phase.
Sally actually signed it after she returned to the UK, so obviously Cherry wasn’t able to graph it. I got that chance last month to complete the sig-set when she made her West End debut at the Duke of York’s theatre in the Broadway transfer of Tennessee William’s THE GLASS MENAGERIE which is currently running until the end of the month.
American actor Brian J Smith’s portrayal of Jim O’Connor, the ‘gentleman caller’ in John Tiffany’s celebrated Procyon of Tennessee William’s THE GLASS MENAGERIE has garnered him award nominations on both sides of the Atlantic. He was shortlisted for both the Drama Desk and Tony Awards for the Broadway run at the Booth Theatre in 2013 and this year’s Oliviers after its transfer to London’s Duke of York’s Theatre, which finishes next week. Brian kindly signed this sketch for me a couple of weeks ago and he said he’s staying in London for another William’s play.
Tony Award winner, Alfie Boe first played Jean Valjean in the concert performance celebrating the 25th Anniversary of LES MISERABLES at London’s O2 arena in October 2010, before taking on the role in the full stage production at the Queen’s Theatre from June to November the following year. In 2015 he reprised the role at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway, succeeding Ramon Karimloo. He shared the 2003 Tony Award with the other principal leads of Baz Luhrmann’s LA BOHEME. He was born Alfred Giovanni Roncalli Boe to Irish-Norwegian parents in Blackpool. It’s the Italian name of Pope John XXIII. Thankfully he shortened it to ‘Alfie’, which takes less time to sign, and he did just that last Saturday at the London Coliseum, before the matinée of CAROUSEL in which he stars with Katherine Jenkins.
The Broadway box-office hit AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, filled with memorable Gershwin musical numbers and spectacular dance routines, opened this week at London’s Dominion Theatre to a cluster of five-star reviews. Directed and choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon and inspired by the Academy Award-winning 1951 film of the same name, premiered at the Palace Theatre on Broadway in April 2015 after a brief engagement at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.
Both leads, ballet stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope headline the West End production. Former First Artist with the Royal Ballet, Leanne originated the role of Lise Dassin, originally played by Leslie Caron in the movie. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance. I attempted to met Leanne in person at the stage door, but London’s fickle Spring weather sprung a leak in my plan last Saturday, so I left it at the theatre and it came back immediately.
American musical theatre dancer, singer, actress and choreographer Donna McKechnie
Has been very much part of the fabric of Broadway for more than half a century since making her debut in the 1961 production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. Fifteen years later she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for originating the role of Cassie, the former chorus girl making a comeback in A CHORUS LINE. In 1980 she was diagnosed with crippling arthritis and told she would never dance again, but defied those odds to return to THE CHORUS LINE six years later and appeared in the West End revival of CAN CAN. She has returned to the London stage to feature in the musical THE WILD PARTY at The Other Palace (formerly the St James) where she signed my sketch.
The new musical obsession, HAMILTON is the hottest ticket on Broadway at the moment. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also starred in the title role, the hip-hop homage to American founding father and George Washington’s chief aide Alexander Hamilton is based on the biography by Ron Chernow. After an initial run off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in early 2015, the production transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in August with unprecedented advance box-office sales. It garnered a record 16 Tony nominations, winning eleven, including Best Musical. It also picked up a Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Lin-Manuel’s Tony and Olivier-winning musical IN THE HEIGHTS is currently playing London at the King’s Cross Theatre. It collected 13 Tony noms, winning four, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy.It was also nominated for a Pulitzer. HAMILTON is scheduled to hit the West End next October at the Victoria Palace Theatre with Sir Cameron Macintosh spending £30 million renovating the venue for its much anticipated arrival.
I did this montage drawing with Lin-Manuel as the centre-piece and sent it to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with low expectations. While I’ve had some success through the mail from Broadway, the ratio isn’t encouraging. When he finished his lead role in early July and nothing came back I thought it will be a case of waiting until next year in London. But to my surprise it arrived back signed, dedicated and inscribed ‘siempre’ (always) on Saturday. That’s a rap!
The stage adaption of Disney’s 1992 animated film ALADDIN transferred from Broadway to London’s West End at Soho’s Prince Edward Theatre last month. Joining British stars Dean John-Wilson as Aladdin and Jade Ewen as Jasmine was Trevor Dion Nicholas from the New York production as the Genie.
The musical premiered in Seattle in 2011 before opening on Broadway in March 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre where it still continues. It was nominated for five Tony Awards.
I left this drawing of the three leads at the theatre with one wish and it was granted… I mean graphed.
Frank Langella has won four Tony Awards. His latest was for his role as Andre in Florian Zeller’s THE FATHER this year. He played Richard Nixon, the only US President to resign the office in Peter Morgan’s FROST/NIXON at London’s Donmar Warehouse and the Gielgud before transferring to Broadway’s Bernard B Jacobs Theatre in April 2007, winning his third Tony. He reprised the role in the film version the following year, earning Oscar, Globe,SAG and BAFTA Award nominations.
I sent Frank this sketch of him in both roles while he was in THE FATHER at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre last month and he signed it with his unique abbreviated initials graph.
One of my favourite plays is THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE by British writer Frank Marcus. It premiered at the Bristol Old Vic in 1965 with Eileen Atkins and Beryl Reid in the lead roles. The production transferred to the West End, before its run at the Belasco Theatre in New York.where Eileen made her Broadway debut. She played the dimwitted ‘Childie’ alongside Beryl’s sadistic, gin-guzzling radio star June Buckridge and her alter ego ‘Sister George’.
Dame Eileen has been treading the boards and appearing on the big and small screen since 1953. She has won a BAFTA, Emmy and three Olivier Awards and has been nominated for four Tony’s, the first of which was for her role in SISTER GEORGE. She also created the iconic British TV series UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS.
Her films include EQUUS, THE DRESSER and GOSFORD PARK-once again all favourites of mine and she can be seen recently on the small screen in DOC MARTIN as Martin Clune’s Aunty, Dr Ruth Ellingham, another favourite of mine.
It’ s no wonder I had to draw her. This montage, which I dropped off at her London agent’s office for signing a couple of weeks ago, includes her as Childie and images from ALL THAT FALL at the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2012 and her solo show ELLEN TERRY WITH EILEEN ATKINS at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe earlier this year in which she portrays over ten parts including Juliet, Beatrice and Viola.
Eight hours. 8 long hours. Written in words or numerically, either way it still spells out a l-o-n-g time to wait for an autograph. Actually it was 8 hours and a few minutes, waiting to get my sketch of the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nominated Hollywood star Jesse Eisenberg signed. But I did. It’s not my usual practice and not one I hope to make a habit of. Jesse is in London to make his West End debut as the dope-smoking, entitled, living of his wealthy parents, narcissistic bully Ben in the tragicomedy THE SPOILS, which he wrote and had its world premiere at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in New York’s Pershing Square Signature Center last summer.
“Engrossingly acted, impeccably staged,” wrote the New York Times.
The off Broadway transfer to London’s Trafalgar Studios starts on 27 May for a three month run. It’s Jesse’s third play, all of which have stated life on the off-Broadway boards.
We – a handful of fellow collectors – found out where he was rehearsing and duly waited nearby. But Jesse had to interrupt his rehearsals to fly to Cannes to do press for his latest film CAFE SOCIETY directed by Woody Allen. Then zap back to London. We thought he was already in the building and would finish at the customary time. That plan disappeared when he actually arrived at five and quickly slipped in without us having time to catch him.
One gets to a point in this business when one has invested time that one does not want to waste by ditching the mission. In other words it would be a waste of time if you didn’t stay to get the graph. But eight hours is a long investment. Thankfully it was a nice sunny day even though the pollen count was eight times higher than normal. It’s a recurring theme. SPOILS Sketch, sneezing and sharpie at the ready.
All was forgotten, well nearly all when we finally met meet Jesse. He thanked us for turning up and waiting. Truly one of the nicest in the business and he really liked the drawing, which is always a bonus.