Drawing: Emma Williams in Half A Sixpence

Emma Williams is hoping it will be fourth time lucky at this year’s Olivier Awards. The popular British musical theatre actress earned nomination number four for her current role as Helen Walsingham in the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of HALF A SIXPENCE, which transferred to London’s Noel Coward Theatre last month. She recently won the WhatsOnStage Award, so here’s hoping!

Emma is also an accomplished songwriter, musician and writer, and is working on her first novel. After her professional stage debut in 2002 at the age of 18 as Truly Scrumptious in the original cast of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at the London Palladium, Emma has originated a further five roles in the West End.

Her first Olivier nom was for Luisa in ZORRO at the Garrick in 2008, followed by Jenny in LOVE STORY at the Duchess and as Maureen last year in MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS at the Noel Coward,  where I managed to catch her last Saturday after the SIXPENCE matinee and she signed this portrait sketch for me. She remembered my MRS HENDERSON drawing which she also graphed. I wished her luck for the big night, which is on 9 April.

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Drawing: Emma Williams, Rhiannon Chesterman and Katrina Kleve in Mrs Henderson Presents

Mrs Henderson Presents

Terry Johnson’s musical stage adaption of the 2005 film MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS that featured Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, premiered at the Theatre Royal Bath last August and has transferred to London’s Noel Coward Theatre.

Olivier winner Tracie Bennett plays the eccentric 70 year-old widow Laura Henderson, who buys turns the London’s famous Windmill cinema into a live theatre, staging continuous variety revues at the beginning of the First World War. When her competition threatens to put her out of business, Mrs Henderson introduced female nudity, which was unprecedented in the UK at the time and based it on the Moulin Rouge in Paris. The Lord Chamberlain reluctantly agreed to the nudity under the condition that the performers remain immobile, thus becoming living works of art, similar to nude statues.

Olivier-nominated Emma Williams, along with Rhiannon Chesterman and Katrina Kleve are the show’s poster girls, perfect sketching subjects. I left this drawing at the theatre for them to sign which they kindly did.