Drawing: Mikhail Baryshnikov in Brodsky/Baryshnikov

Alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Vladimir Vasiliev and Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov is  considered one of the greatest ballet dancers in history. He returned to the London stage last week, not as a dancer, but reading the poetry of Nobel Laurate Joseph Brodsky, who was one of the first people Mikhail meet in New York  when he defected from the Soviet Union in 1974.

Joseph was a huge influence on ‘Misha’ In the years the later revolutionised and popularised ballet as a performer and choreographer, while launching a successful parallel career as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination playing Yuri Kopeikine in the 1977 film THE TURNING POINT. Their relationship forms the basis for Latvian director Alvin Hermanis’s experimental theatre piece, BRODSKY/BARYSHNIKOV in which Mikhail reads his friend’s poetry in the original Russian. After productions in Riga, Te Aviv and New York Mikhail, performed the show for five nights at the Apollo Theatre in London, where I managed to meet him at the stage door and he signed my sketch.

Drawing: Teodor Ilincai in Madama Butterfly

Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincai made his international debut as MacDuff in Verdi’s MACBETH at the Hamburg State Opera in January 2009 and later that year first appeared at the Royal Opera House, playing Rodolfo in LA BOHEME. He returned to Covent Garden last month as Lieutenant Pinkerton opposite Ana Maria Martinez in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, where he signed my drawing.

Drawing: Annette Andre in Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased)

Australian actress Annette Andre appeared in a number of high profile British TV shows in the 1960’s and 70’s, including THE AVENGERS, THE SAINT and THE PRISIONER, with her longest running role as Marty Hopkirk’s widow Jeannie in the Private detective series RANDALL AND HOPKIRK (DECEASED). She starred alongside Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope who played private detectives Jeffrey Randall and Martin Hopkirk respectively, the later returning as a ghost after he was murdered while investigating a case. Annette was speaking at the Museum Of Comedy in London a couple of weeks ago about the show and her career. I managed to catch up with her afterwards and she signed this Jeannie portrait for me.

Drawing: Michael Palin

Monty Python’s Michael Palin is referred to as ‘Britain’s nicest man’. In his 2009 Telegraph interview with Marc Lee, entitled ‘He’s not a Messiah, but a very nice man’, Michael said it was because of his “amenable conciliatory character.”

After university he teamed up with fellow Oxford graduate Terry Jones to write for TV shows such as the RIPPING YARNS, DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET and THE FROST REPORT, which was the first time all the British Python’s – Michael, Terry and John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman worked together before creating the iconic MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS. They were joined by Terry Gilliam who was an American citizen.

After that Michael journeyed to all corners of the planet many times over as a travel writer and documentarian. His career has also been sprinkled with notable film appearances, including his BAFTA-winning supporting role as Ken Pile in 1988’s A FISH CALLED WANDA. It was the first of four BAFTA’s awarded to Michael. In 2013 he was the given the Fellowship the British Academy’s highest honour. I did this Python/Wanda montage and dropped it into his London agent’s office where Britain’s nicest man signed it for me with a nice inscription.

Drawing: Ana Maria Martinez in Madama Butterfly

Puerto Rican-American soprano Ana Maria Martinez returned to Covent Garden last month to play the lead role of Cio-Cio-San in the Royal Opera’s production of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Since making her Royal Opera debut as Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI in 2002, Ana Maria has starred in a number of productions including MADAMA BUTTERFLY when she replaced the ill Alexia Voulgaridou in 2015. She is very familiar with the character of Cio-Cio-San, having also performed the part for the Metropolitan Opera and the Barvarian and the Vienna State Operas among others.Ana Maria signed my sketch after the final night performance in London last week.

Drawing: Sir Cameron Mackintosh

At the height of his success in the early 1990’s, British impresario extraordinaire Sir Cameron Mackintosh was described by the New York Times as “the most successful, influential and powerful theatrical producer in the world.”

For the past fifty years he has produced more musicals than anyone else in history and the three longest running musical productions – LES MISERABLES, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and CATS , as well as OLIVIER! and MISS SAIGON. Not bad for someone who started out as a stagehand at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Although I had met Sir Cameron on a few occasions I had never drawn him, so I did just that and dropped it into his London office and he immediately returned it with this very complimentary note.

Drawing: Cherry Jones and Sally Hawkins in Mrs. Warren’s Profession

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.

Drawing: Brian J Smith in The Glass Menagerie

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.

Drawing: Roger Allam and Jessie Buckley in The Tempest

I drew this sketch of Roger Allam as Prospero and Jessie Buckley as Miranda from Jeremy Herrin’s production of THE TEMPEST which was part of the 2013 season at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. But I never got the chance to get it signed at the time. It’s what I call ‘siguations vacant’.I have numerous  unsigned sketches in my bag, just in case I cross paths with those rendered. Jessie actually signed a short while after the season finished at her London agency, but I’ve been waiting for Roger to walk the boards again. This seems to happen at three to four year intervals, between his screen commitments. Having won the Olivier for his magnificent performance as Falstaff in HENRY IV PARTS 1 & 2 at the Globe in 2010, he returned for THE TEMPEST three years later. He did so again, albeit it a little longer, last month in LIMEHOUSE at the Donmar Warehouse, where I managed to meet up with him on a quiet Saturday morning to complete the sketch signing.

Drawing: The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios

Simon Callow directs a brand new production of Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play THE PHILANTHROPIST at London’s Trafalgar Studios, which opens this week after a fortnight of previews.  It’s a ‘fiendishly clever inversion’ of Moliere’s THE MISANTHROPE, which the writer describes it as a ‘biting bourgeois comedy’, centring on an academic whose morbid compulsion to please everyone has the opposite effect.

After a ‘try-out’ at the Royal Court in London, the play premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in March 1971. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play. “Christopher Hampton was 23 and it was his first big hit – a stonking success,” said Simon Callow, who has gathered together a young cast, light on theatre experience, but well known to TV audiences.

THE INBETWEENERS star Simon Bird makes his stage debut, joined by Tom Rosenthal, his co-star in Channel 4’s FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER, FRESH MEAT and CALL THE MIDWIFE’s Charlotte Ritchie, BAFTA winner Matt Berry from the IT CROWD and actress-model Lily Cole, who all signed my montage sketch heading in for Saturday’s matinee.