The musical version of Mel Brooks’ hit 1974 monster comedy film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is proving very popular in the West End this festive season. Featuring in the title role as Dr.Frederick Frankenstein is Hadley Fraser and his buxom assisant Inga played by Summer Strallen. Both signed this sketch for me a couple of weeks ago at the Garrick Theatre’s stage door.
English actor and singer Hadley Fraser takes the lead role as Frederick Frankenstein in Mel Brook’s musical version of his 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, which opened at the Garrick Theatre last month. Hadley made his West End debut as Marius in LES MISERABLES at the Palace Theatre in 2002 and performed the role of Grantaire in LES MISERABLES IN CONCERT: THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY at London’s 02 in 2010. The following year he played Raoul in three special concerts of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the show’s 25th Anniversary, the last of which was screened live around the world. Also in 2011 he returned to LES MISERABLES as Javert at the Queens Theatre for a year. He signed this drawing for me at the stage door after a Saturday matinee a few weeks ago.
After a ten year hiatus, Christian Slater has returned to the West End in the revival of David Mamet’s landmark 1983 drama GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, which is currently in previews, opening on 9 November at the Playhouse Theatre. Last seen in the business satire SWIMMING WITH SHARKS at the Vaudeville in 2007, Christian made his London stage debut as the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy in Dale Wasserman’s adaption of Ken Kesey’s cult novel ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST at the Gielgud in 2004. He reprised the role for a return season two years later at the Garrick. Christian very kindly met a few of us waiting at the Playhouse stage door after the first GLENGARRY matinee and signed my CUCKOO’s NEST sketch.
The ‘gentle giant’, 6′ 3′ American singer and actor Shuler Hensley revived his role as the Monster in Mel Brook’s musical version of his 1974 YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN when it opened at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End this month. It’s a role he originated on Broadway in 2007, earning a Tony nomination before continuing the part for the US National tour.
Schuler is no stranger to London audiences, winning the Olivier Award for his portrayal of Jud Fry in OKLAHOMA at the National Theatre in 1998, before transferring a year later to the Lyceum in the West End. In 2002 it crossed the Atlantic to Broadway’s George Gershwin Theatre where he continued his winning ways, collecting the Tony in the process. Shuler signed my Monster sketch at the Garrick stage door on Saturday on his way in for the matinee.
English actress Lesley Joseph sobbed… but in a good way, when she found out she had won the role of housekeeper and superannuated lover of the original Doctor F Frau Boucher in Mel Brook’s new West End stage production of his 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. “Oh my God I’m going to be working with Mel Brooks!”
Lesley became an international name as Dorian Green in the British TV sitcom BIRDS OF A FEATHER and recently as a contestant on STRICTLY COME DANCING with partner Anton Du Beke. In his four-star review for The Independent, Paul Taylor wrote, “Lesley Joseph brings a superb hatchet-faced obsessiveness to Frau Blucher and her idiotic goose-stepping devotion to the memory of the violent older Frankenstein.”
Lesley signed my Frau B sketch going into the Garrick Theatre for Saturday’s matinee.
New Zealander Sam Wills and his alter – ego Tape Face found International notoriety last year, reaching the finals of America’s Got Talent, where he was the ‘most buzzed- about’ contestant. Described as a ‘modern day Chaplin’ Sam’s contemporary comedic mime revives silent film acting with a piece of tape over his mouth and the traditional stripped shirt, using facial expressions and body movements to captivate his audiences.
He began performing as an apprentice clown at the age of 13. Sam rarely gives interviews to continue the illusion of not speaking, although he was happy to chat in our antipodean accents with a fellow London-based Kiwi and sign my sketch before his matinee show at the Garrick Theatre where he is resident until 23 July.
Moliere’s classic comedy THE MISER has received a liberal adaption by director Sean Foley and co-adaptee Phil Porter in a major revival which started at the Garrick Theatre last week after short runs at the Bath Theatre Royal and Richmond. Griff Rhys Jones plays the Harpagon, the paranoid lead, fanatical about protecting his abundant wealth. He is ably supported by a splendid comedic cast that includes Lee Mack, Mathew Horne, Ryan Gage and Kathy Wix, who all signed this sketch for me on arrival for the matinee on Saturday.
This is the third drawing that Greta Scacchi has signed for me. The first two were graphed when she starred in BETTE AND JOAN alongside Anita Dobson at the Arts Theatre in 2011. The Emmy-winner has returned to the West End in the last play of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s productions at the Garrick. John Osbourne’s venomous 1957 play THE ENTERTAINER. Greta plays Phoebe, the sad wife of Sir Kenneth’s clapped-out Vaudevillian Archie Price. The Independent’s Paul Taylor wrote in his four-star review, “Greta Scacchi vividly captures the touchiness and squally mood-swings of Archie’s weary, put-upon working class wife.” Greta was running a little late for Saturday’s matinee, but graciously stopped to sign for three of us waiting at the stage door, including this sketch of her as Phoebe and a younger portrait, which I identified when she asked me who the second person was? She smiled and signed.
For the past year Sir Kenneth Branagh and his theatre company’s creative home has been the Garrick Theatre on London’s Charing Cross Road. The ‘Plays At The Garrick’ debut season has now entered its final chapter with John Osborne’s THE ENTERTAINER, featuring Sir Ken in the lead role as the failing music-hall performer Archie Rice. He appeared in four of the six productions and co-directing three with Rob Ashford.
My montage sketch depicts him as Archie, hit-man Ralph in THE PAINKILLERS and Leontes, the King of Sicily in Shakespeare’s THE WINTER’S TALE. I caught up the the theatrical knight himself as he arrived at the stage door on Saturday morning, as usual, hours before the matinee and signed it for me. I asked if there would be another residency next year and he replied. “As Mr Schwarzenegger would say, we’ll be back.”
I couldn’t resist doing another sketch of Lily James as Juliet, currently starring in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s ROMEO AND JULIET as part of the Plays At The Garrick season in the iconic London venue. Matt Trueman wrote in his Variety review, the fawnlike James is “beautifully expressive, stretching the verse like silly putty…”
Lily signed this second drawing for me last week after an evening performance. The production on 13 August.