Dracula! (Mr Swallow – The Musical) the hit new musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival transferred to London’s Soho Theatre last month and due to phenomenal demand has added extra shows, now running until 7 March 2015.
Written by the comically acclaimed character performer Nick Mohammed, this musical spoof follows the chaotic final dress rehearsal for the fictitious show Dracula, as his excitable alter ego, Mr Swallow in the title role, enters on roller staktes making strange demands and increasingly bizarre interpretations, like a “tin pot tyrant”. He is joined by three brilliant musical theatre actors; David Elms plays Joseph, the director who also plays Van Helsing; Kieran Hodgson is Jonathan Harker and Johanna Grace is his fiancée, Wilhamina, accompanied by a five piece band playing original compositions by Ollie Birch.
Nick graduated with a first in geophysics and commenced doctoral studies in seismology at Cambridge, but was caught in the glare of the Footlights Troupe and took up comedy instead. He is developing Mr Swallow as a TV vehicle.
I caught up briefly with Nick and the cast after Saturday’s evening performance where he and Joanna signed my sketch.
A dilemma presented itself at the Gala Screening of The Other Woman at London’s Curzon Mayfair this week, when Cameron Diaz walked the carpet. I drew two sketches of her to get ‘graphed. The close up was over worked. The more I worked the 4B, the more it became apparent it just wasn’t to be. You can spend too much time on a drawing and lose your reference. It didn’t seem to me to resemble the subject. Everything was there – the clear eyes, lip shape and dimples, but somehow it was lost in translation, and too static – like a statue.
I quickly sketched another – minimal lines, with more energy in order to capture her ‘being’ and not just an anatomical copy. But, which one to give her to sign? Since, of course, the PAs insist, “only one”. Most people around me loved the close up, more dramatic and it was certainly her. There’s always the fear that the subject will reject. I could present both and let Cameron decide? Too awkward, holding both and filming while the adoring multitude press over the top of you.
In the end I looked at her. She was bouncy, laughing, animated and seemed genuinely happy with the world and where she was in it that balmy Spring evening. So I opted for number 2 because it best represented her at the time. She was happy to sign it and thanked me. Everyone said I should have got the portrait signed. Oh well, maybe next time…
Sandra Bullock is considered to be the biggest star of modern Hollywood, replacing Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie as the highest paid actress with $56million.
Her films have grossed over 3.1billion dollars worldwide. She has the distinction of being name ‘best’ and ‘worst’ actress in the same year. Two days before winning the Academy Award for The Blind Side, Sandra collected two Razzies for All About Steve. She attended both ceremonies – a real trooper.
Sandra signed my sketch at the Gala Screening of Gravity on the second night of the BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square.
For her role as an emotionally charged astronaut lost in space she is being tipped to win her second Oscar, or at the very least receive a Best Actress nomination.
Dame Judi Dench – one of the greatest stage and screen actresses of all time, is also one of the best signers. Her most recent stage performance was as Alice in Peter and Alice at the Noël Coward Theatre in London. There was huge demand for her ‘graph and she always obliged – a real trouper!
I did this quick ‘portrait study’ in March 2010 and dropped it into the Rose Theatre in Surrey, where she was playing Titania as Queen Elizabeth I in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – almost 50 years after she first played the role for the Royal Shakespeare Company.