Drawing: Joely Richardson in The Lady From The Sea at the Rose Theatre

Joely RichardsonJoely Richardson had an early ambition to become a professional tennis player, spending two years at a tennis academy in Florida, before turning to acting.

She made her return to the stage, playing Ibsen’s mysterious heroine in The Lady From The Sea at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, Surrey February 2012.

In the 1970s Joely’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave, made a celebrated Ellida – the married Norwegian woman at the centre of the play, who is still in love with a sailor who disappeared years before. More sensitively, her sister Natasha, who died in 2009 after a skiing accident, also played the role at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2003. Both played the part to great acclaim. No pressure.

The Independent’s critic said, “Richardson dazzles on her return to the British Stage… Joely Richardson is excellent as Ellida.”

The role is obviously in the DNA.

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Drawing: Judi Dench

Judi Dench 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.