Drawing: Colm Wilkinson in Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera

Autographed drawing of actor Colm Wilkinson in Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera

Irish-born tenor and actor Colm Wilkinson was voted by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll as one of the five greatest singers ever. He originated the lead role of Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLES for both the West End and Broadway productions for which he received both an Olivier and Tony Award nomination and the title role for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Sydmonton Festival and the Canadian production. He also represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, placing fifth singing “Born to Sing” in 1978.

After collaborating with Andrew in the Dublin production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, playing the role of Judas Iscariot in 1972, they joined forces again in 1985 at the Sydmonton workshop in a deconsecrated 16th century chapel on the grounds of Lord Lloyd Webber’s country estate in Hampshire, where he would perform new works for a private audiences.

Colm originated the title role for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and was offered it for the West End debut, but choose to play Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLES instead, opening initially at the Barbican Centre in October 1985, before transferring to the Palace Theatre. He reprised the role for the Broadway premiere at the Broadway Theatre in 1987. Two years later he and his family relocated to Toronto for the Phantom role in the original Canadian production, which he would play for four and a half years. He did return to play Jean Valjean at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Toronto in 1998-99.

He also reprised the role for the 10th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1995 and was a special guest at the 25th Anniversary at London’s 02 Arena in 2010. A year later he was part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the Royal Albert Hall alongside a number of former global Phantoms. In the 2012 film version of LES MISERABLES, Colm played the Bishop of Digne, winning the National Board of Review Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as part of the ensemble cast.

While Colm and his family predominately live in Canada (he became a Canadian citizen in 2000), he does have a house back in Ireland and I was fortunate to get my sketch to him on a recent return home, which he kindly dedicated, signed and returned to me.


Drawing: Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone is musical theatre royalty on both sides of the Atlantic. Since making her professional debut 45 years ago she has played every major role and won every major West End and Broadway accolade, including the Olivier and two Tonys. She’s also collected a couple of Grammys for good measure.

Patti originated the title role of Eva Peron in the 1979 Broadway production of EVITA, picking up her first Tony. She played the part of Fantine in the original London cast of LES MISERABLES in 1985, the same year she appeared as Moll in THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, winning the Olivier for both roles. In 2008 she won her second Tony for portrayal of Rose in the Broadway revival of GYPSY.

Her latest appearance on the Great White Way is as Helena Rubinstein in WAR PAINT at the Nederlander Theatre, which garnered her seventh Tony nom. I sent her this montage sketch in March this year at the theatre and it came back dedicated and signed.

Drawing: Alfie Boe in Les Miserables

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.

Harriet Thorpe in Les Miserables and Wicked


British actress Harriet Thorpe has played two of  the West End’s most memorable, musical, Madames –  Madame Thenardier in LES MISERABLES at the Palace Theatre in 1996 and Madame Morrible in WICKED at the Apollo Victoria in 2008, 2010 and again in 2013. She was recently performing ‘Sir’s’ long-suffering wife in THE DRESSER at the Duke of York’s where she signed my ‘Madames’ drawing.

Drawing: Celine Schoenmaker in Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables

Celinde Schoenmaker

Dutch songstress Celinde Schoenmaker made her West End debut as the fateful Fantine in LES MISERABLES at the Queen’s Theatre in early 2013, continuing until the summer before retuning to her homeland to appear in LOVE STORY. She returned to the barricades to reprise the role of Fantine in June 2014, before taking on the iconic Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Her Majesty’s in it’s 30th Anniversary year. Christine, the chorus girl and the object of obsession, passion and love for the mysterious Phantom was first played by Sarah Brightman in the original 1986 production.

With leading roles in two of the world’s longest running musicals was reason enough to capture Celinde with my 4B pencil. Obviously she doesn’t appear in every performance  and I seemed to pick the ones where she wasn’t, but I eventually caught up with her at the stage door after Saturday’s matinee where she was delighted to sign the drawing for me.

Drawing: Jeremy Secomb as Phantom and Javert in the same week

Jeremy Secomb

One of my ‘brain gone, leaving no forwarding address’ moments occurred a few weeks back when I was speaking to Ben Forster as he signed my ELF sketch on the final day of it’s run at the Dominion Theatre. Given my many moons involvement in theatre, both on, off and in between stages, I said something so profoundly stupid yet, by a twist of fate I almost redeemed myself. Bear with me.

I asked Ben what he was doing next and he said PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
‘Which part?” I asked.
“The Phantom” he replied.
“Oh the big one.”
“Yes the big one.”
This is when my wires crossed and I asked,
“Is Jermey Secomb still playing Javert?”
“That’s LES MISERABLES,” he said in his usual very nice manner.
Half mask, brain at half-mast, half wit… find a hole to disappear down.

Anyway this week the moons all lined and some theatrical lunacy occurred that in a perverse way vindicated my stupidly, in my own mind at least. Ben, as the lead Phantom was injured, Scott Davis the standby and Kieran Brown understudy were unavailable, so all of a sudden PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, one of the West End’s major musicals was just…’of the Opera.’

Step in Jeremy, aka Javert, the emergency Phantom, who was familiar with the role, having played it many times around the globe and previously at Her Majesty’s. He literally leaped form the barricades at the Queen’s Theatre down the Haymarket to the secret lair, at the last minute to save the day. Slightly dramatic, but you get the picture.

I just had to do this sketch of Jeremy, who I had previously drawn as SWEENEY TODD and get it signed to commemorate the occasion. On Saturday I headed out on my vindication venture, but which role was he doing and at which royally-named theatre? I found out he was back on the barricades at Queen’s  and showed him this is a little tribute to his brilliance professionalism and Antipodean versatility He remembered my Sweeney sketch and was pleased to be able to graph it for me. My rendered redemption was complete… sort of. Jeremy Secomb was Javert, who played the Phantom. You get the picture.

Drawing: Samantha Barks as Eponine in Les Miserables

Samantha Barks
“I love Eponine-she’s one of the best roles in Les Miserables,” said Samantha Barks. She should know, it’s the heartbreaking and tragic role that propelled the Isle of Man actress into the international spotlight. She played Eponine on the West End stage, at the Queen’s Theatre from 21 June 2010 until 18 June the following year. The show’s impresario producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh chose her for the 25th Anniversary show at the O2 in 2010 and it was he who announced her role in the Tom Hooper helmed film version. Sam had just finished performing Nancy in Oliver at Manchester’s palace Theatre when he joined her on stage for the curtain call and told her she had the part. “It was the biggest surprise of my life,” she recalled, “I was completely speechless.” When asked in an interview for Movieline how many times she had sung Eponine’s signature song ‘On My Own’, Sam said, “That’s hard-I’m rubbish at math,” before listing her history with the tune. The writer’s  quick calculation came to 400+, but that didn’t include all the times as a child singing it into a hairbrush in front of a mirror, wanting to be Eponine.

Although I have meet Sam on numerous occasions in London at theatre venues, film premieres and award ceremonies, I actually sent this  sketch to her while she was in Oliver in Manchester, probably just after Sir Cameron gave her the good news-a good time to catch her me thinks!

Drawing: Matt Lucas as Thénardier in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre

matt lucas

Ever since he was given a ticket to see Les Misérables for his 13th birthday, Matt Lucas has dreamed of performing in the musical sensation. Matt has made a name for himself in Little Britain with David Walliams.

On 3 October 2010 his dream came true. In fact, it was the subject of a BBC2 TV doco entitled Matt Lucas Dreams the Dream. He played the comic villain Thenardier in the 25th Anniversary concert of the show at the O2 arena in London to a standing ovation. A year later, on 23 June 2011 he reprised the role at The Queen Theatre in the West End for a four month engagement. Matt signed my sketch at the stage door on 6 September 2011

Drawing: Roger Allam

Roger Allam001

Roger Allam was the original Javert in the London production of Les Misérables – one of his many high profile parts in an illustrious theatrical career, which has included winning three Olivier Awards.

He signed this sketch at Shakespeare’s Globe in October 2010, playing the role of Falstaff in Henry  IV Parts 1 and 2 for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor. He is currently back on stage at the Globe playing Prospero in The Tempest and on the telly as Magister Illyrio Mopatis in the popular Game of Thrones.

Sketch: Anne Hathaway

anne hathaway001

Before Anne Hathaway entertained everyone with her nipples while winning her Oscar, she signed my drawing at the Les Misérables premiere in London. She was a real autograph trooper, the only one in the cast to go around all the public in the drop off area, especially as there’s not much too her and it was very cold! Not to mention that she didn’t have much hair at the time…