Considered one of Britain’s national treasures; comedian, actress, writer and now pantomime Queen, Dawn French at the age of ‘oh-never-mind’ has finally become part of that other British phenomenon, the Christmas Pantomime, making her debut over the festive season in SNOW WHITE at the London Palladium. Dawn played the wicked Queen Dragonella, a hiss-boo baddie. All agreed, The VICAR OF DIBLEY star’s natural, impish comic persona lends itself perfectly to the madcap genre.
Writing about Dawn’s performance in his Telegraph review, Dominic Cavendish said, “She amazes with a fiendish tongue-twister, she bumps and grinds in an inappropriate cougar fashion, lip-synching to pop hits as she tries to hit on the young prince, and she delivers a wonderfully Dibley denouement.”
Dawn signed off after the final show last weekend on Twitter,”It’s been a blast. OH YES IT HAS!” She also signed my sketch at the stage door.
The hugely popular 2015 Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 classic musical THE KING AND I transferred to to the London Palladium for the summer with both its leads making their West End debuts. Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara reprised their roles as the King of Siam and English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens in this unconventional and tempestuous relationship, set in Bangkok in the 1860’s.
Bartlett Sher’s lavish Lincoln Centre Theatre production was nominated for 9 Tony Awards, winning four, including the Best Actress award for Kelli and a nom for Ken. Due to demand, the London season was extended by an extra three weeks, finishing last Saturday.
In her WhatsOnStage review, Daisy Bowie-Sell wrote, “Overall the two make a superb double act… Kelli O’Hara is made for the part, her acting skills and delicate rich voice come together to imbue Anna with an engaging compassion and humanity… Ken is brilliantly funny, sharp and betrays moments of convincing vulnerability.”
I left this sketch at the stage door and it came back signed by both.
Britain’s original teen idol and rock ‘n’ roll star, Tommy Steele returned to the London Coliseum, sixty years after he made his stage debut in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA. This time he headlines THE GLENN MILLER STORY for a limited seven week engagement, celebrating one of the world’s best-selling recording artists, legendary American big-band leader, Glenn Miller, who had 23 number 1 hits between 1939-1943.
Tommy was last seen on the London stage in 2012 at the London Palladium as Ebenezer Scrooge in SCROOGE: THE MUSICAL adapted from the 1970 film SCROOGE featuring Albert Finney in the title role. The production was part of a UK and Ireland Christmas season tour between 2003-2013, which also included a run at the Palladium in 2005.
Tommy was included among the British Cultural Icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake in 2012 to appear in a new version of his famous artwork, The Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND album cover to celebrate British cultural figures of the last sixty years. He signed my Glenn Miller/ Scrooge sketch at the Palladium after performing the Saturday matinee a couple weeks ago.
Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valieute or Nicole Scherzinger for short, made her West End debut as Grizabella last December in the revival of the musical Cats at the London Pallidium. The former Pussycat Dolls lead singer received critical acclaim for her 12 week run which ended in early February.
A recording of her rendition of the aching ballad Memory (which is available online) premiered on BBC Radio 2 this week, where Andrew Lloyd Webber said it was, “the best recording of anything of my music ever done.” He also told listeners that they are taking the show to Broadway. “I just hope and pray that she will agree to do it there as I think she’d take America by storm.”
The extended West End run sees Kerry Ellis replace Nicole as the lonely, fading glamoupuss until 25 April 2015.
Australian comedian, satirist, artist, author and icon Barry Humphries is on his ‘Farewell Tour’ with Eat, Pray, Laugh, marking his retirement form live entertainment after more than fifty years in the business. Barry’s forte is always his one-man satirical revues in which he appears as a number of his character creations.
My sketch of Barry and his alter egos – acid-tongued gigastar housewife Dame Edna Everage, the inebriated cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson and the gentle ‘returned gentleman’ Sandy Stone. Barry signed it for me at the London Palladium where Eat, Pray, Laugh opened in the UK in November. Prior to a national provincial tour.