Drawing: Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends tribute concert 3 May 2022

Drawing of Stephen Sondheim signed by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Maria Friedman, Dame Judy Dench, Petula Clark, Julia McKenzie, Michael Ball, Bernadette Peters, Sian Philips, Bonnie Langford, Janie Dee, Gary Wilmot, Clive Rowe, Charlie Stemp, Michael Xavier, Jon Robyns, Damien Lewis, Rob Brydon, Haydn Gwynn and Julian Ovenden, from the Stephen Sonheim Old Friends Tribute Concert, London

British producer and theatre impresario, Sir Cameron Mackintosh invited many of the late Stephen Sondheim’s old friends to join him in celebrating the great composer’s extraordinary talents and legacy at the West End theatre named after him. Considered one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century musical theatre, Stephen passed away at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut last November at the age of 91, before he was able to attend the official naming ceremony of the Shaftesbury Avenue theatre.

The tribute concert STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S OLD FRIENDS (from a number in 1981’s MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG) on 3 May, directed by Maria Friedman was also simulcast at the nearby Prince Edward Theatre, due to ticket demand. All proceeds went to the Stephen Sondheim Foundation. In his five star review for the Guardian, Mark Lawson wrote, “A glorious all-star memorial service… Stephen Sondheim was so vast a talent that London required two theatres to remember him… each of the (41) tunes a eulogy.”

While I wasn’t unable to get (or indeed fit) every artist, I did manage 19 from the glittering line-up, who respectfully signed around the pencil portrait of the great man; Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Maria Friedman, Dame Judy Dench, Petula Clark, Julia McKenzie, Michael Ball, Bernadette Peters, Sian Philips, Bonnie Langford, Janie Dee, Gary Wilmot, Clive Rowe, Charlie Stemp, Michael Xavier, Jon Robyns, Damien Lewis, Rob Brydon, Haydn Gwynn and Julian Ovenden.

Drawing: Rob Brydon in Future Conditional

Rob BrydonWelsh comedian and ‘fully fledged light entertainment personality’ Rob Brydon is currently starring in Future Conditional, the first production at the Old Vic theatre under its new artistic director Matthew Warchus, who has taken over from Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey. The play tackles the challenges of the British schooling system – a subject  I have a close working knowledge of- written by Royal Court director-turned-writer Tamsin Oglesby. Rob plays an English Teacher, God held him.  And it was the good Lord who was uttered as he saw this sketch when I stopped him whizzing out of the Old Vic stage door on Saturday night. I think it was an exclamation of admiration rather than a call to the almighty for help. “Oh my Lord,” he gasped followed by “Yes,yes.yes.”- the holy trinity of confirmation to my signing request.

 

Drawing: Rob Brydon, Nigel Harman and Ashley Jensen in a Chorus of Disapproval

Chorus of disapproval001

At the end of last year we went to see Rob Brydon in “A Chorus of Disapproval” at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Enjoyed the play and some of the cast – Rob Brydon, Nigel Harman, Ashley Jensen – signed my drawing.