Drawing: Amy Griffiths as Florabel Leigh

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Hart and Kaufman’s great old-fashioned Broadway comedy hit ONCE IN A LIFETIME was revived at London’s Young Vic theatre over the festive season. Satirising the entertainment world at the arrival of ‘talking pictures’, the story follows three enterprising New Yorkers as they head west to cash in after the first sound film became a smash hit, setting up an elocution studio in Tinseltown.

Amy Griffiths plays Florabel Leigh, a somewhat famous silent film star who finds that the switch to sound puts her at a disadvantage because of her accent, so she needs to enrol in elocution lessons to work in the talkies. Misadventures abound. Amy signed my Florabel sketch after the final matinee in January.

Drawing: Lucy Cohu in Once In A Lifetime

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After an eight year hiatus, RIPPER STREET’S Lucy Cohu returned to the stage in Andrew Bowell’s psychological thriller SPEAKING IN TONGUES at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre in the Autumn of 2009. She played double roles moving from a seductive wife to a terrified victim. Among her small screen roles was Princess Margaret in Channel 4’s THE QUEEN’S SISTER which earned her Emmy and BAFTA nominations in 2005. Three years later she won an International Emmy playing Liz in the true-life drama FORGIVEN.

Lucy was back on the London boards this Christmas in the classic 1930’s comedy,  often described as  Broadway’s revenge on Hollywood, ONCE IN A LIFETIME at the Young Vic, playing the star-columnist Helen Hobart. I meet her in the last week of the run and she signed this montage sketch for me.

Drawing: John Marquez in Once In A Lifetime

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Viewers of the popular ITV comedy-drama series DOC MARTIN will be familiar with John Marquez’s character PC Joe Penhale, the dedicated Portwenn policeman ‘on the job 24/7’, who suffered some neurological damage after being kicked by a horse. The Doc’s prognosis is he’s a ‘complete friutcake.’ His latest stage persona has similar qualities.

Having previously appeared at the Young Vic in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and THE GOOD SOUL OF SZECHUAN, John returned to the London theatre over the festive season to appear in the Richard Jones’ revival of ONCE IN A LIFETIME, the classic 1930’s comedy about Hollywood by Broadway legends Moss Hart and George S Kaufman. He played
‘the beautifully naive’ George Lewis who gets a chance of a lifetime to be a big shot on set.

As part of a down-and-out vaudeville triple act who pack up and move to California to set up a bogus elocution academy for verbally-challenged silent screen stars and cash in on the momentous advent of the talkies. “John Marquez is sublimely good as George,” wrote Paul Taylor in his Independent review. I caught up with John when he arrived for the final matinee on Saturday. Today he starts filming a new series of DOC MARTIN.

Drawing: Harry Enfield in Once In A Lifetime

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At 55, BAFTA-Award winning British comedian, actor, writer and director Harry Enfield made his stage debut in the London revival of Moss Hart and George S Kaufman’s classic 1930’s Broadway comedy ONCE IN A LIFETIME, which finishes its festive season at the Young Vic Theatre next weekend. Harry plays film studio mogul Herman Glogauer at the dawn of the talkies when Hollywood was transformed with the introduction of synchronised sound and the end of the silent era.

By all accounts his performance drew positive reviews in the mainstream press. The Guardian’s Michael Billington headlined his review with “Harry Enfield is a legit hit in Hollywood satire,” going on to say he “makes an assured theatre debut.”

The affable Harry is always friendly with his fans and took time to stop for photos and sign some graphs, including my sketch before Saturday’s matinee.