Drawing: Mazz Murray in We Will Rock You

Autographed drawing of Mazz Murray in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre on London's West End

English singer and actress Mazz Murray was the longest-serving member of the cast in the London production of Queen’s rock musical, WE WILL ROCK YOU, joining the original ensemble when the show opened at the Dominion Theatre in May 2002. She took over the principal part of Killer Queen from Sharon D. Clarke in April 2004, remaining until June 2010, becoming the show’s longest-running performer in the role.

She later returned for special two-week farewell season from August 8-2011. In a recent interview, Mazz recalled the Queen’s Jubilee – Elizabeth ll, that is – concert at Buckingham Palace. She got on the wrong coach and ended up walking up the Mall in her PVC cat suit. After the grande finale, the Queen and Prince Charles meet everyone. The Prince leaned into into her and said, “The boys and I saw you walking down the Mall. They were in the car behind me.”

Her other roles include Tanya in MAMMA MIA and is currently Mamma Morton in the London revival of CHICAGO at the Phoenix Theatre. “The good thing about being in musicals,” she continued in her interview, “You’re a superstar on stage for two hours, then you’re in the supermarket the next morning. It’s the best of both worlds, you get your ego massaged, but have a totally private life.” Unless of course you happen to be walking down the Mall in a PVC cat suit in front of a Royal vehicle.

It was great to meet Mazz at the Phoenix Theatre stage door on Saturday when she arrived for the CHICAGO matinee last Saturday, where she signed my sketch. ‘Extraordinarily nice,’ as the lyrics say.

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Drawing: Jeff Wayne in The War of the Worlds

Jeff Wayne

” No one would have believed…” are the opening lines in Jeff Wayne’s musical version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. I got the chance to meet the American composer, who conducts the live orchestra on stage, during previews for the West End premiere of the reimagined production about the invasion of the earth by ruthless Martians at London’s Dominion Theatre last week.

The original 1978 concept album became a global music phenomenon.  Adapted from English author H.G Wells’ 1897 sci-fi novel, it was one of the first stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. Jeff’s musical reached the Top 10 in 22 countries and in eleven it was number one. It picked up many accolades including two Ivor Novello Awards, whose judges included Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Alfred Hitchcock. In 2009 it was listed as the 39th best-selling album of all time in the UK.

On the original recording, Richard Burton plays the Journalist/Narrator, which I said to Jeff, must have been a great experience. He acknowledged that and said he had been privileged  to work with a lot of great people on the project. In an interview Jeff said his first choice for the narrator was always Richard, because “his voice was like a musical instrument.” He wrote to him in 1975 when the legendary actor was playing EQUUS on Broadway and received a call a few days latter. He loved the concept and said “Count me in dear boy”.

When I asked Jeff to sign my sketch I specifically asked if he could please add the Martian war cry “ULLA!” which he was happy to do, “OK, but first I’m going to write something else”, and inscribed Richard Burton’s opening lines from the intro tune, ‘The Eve of the War.’ Very cool.

Drawing: Marti Pellow and Madalena Alberto in Evita

marti:madalena evita

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice‘s classic 1978 musical Evita made a brief return to London’s West End for a seven week run at the refurbished Dominion Theatre.

Talented newcomer, Portuguese actress Madalena Alberto played the Argentine political phenomenon Eva Peron. The role has propelled numerous unknown actresses into star players  – such as Patti LuPone and Elaine Paige in the original West End and Broadway productions respectively. Critic Mark Shenton acknowledged he used the oldest cliché in showbiz -“a star is born”- writing about the “stunning vocalist”. She previously played Fantine in the 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables.

Musical Theatre and pop icon Marti Pellow played the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, the narrator who cynically assesses the hysterical grief that gripped Argentina when Evita died.