Drawing: The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios

Simon Callow directs a brand new production of Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play THE PHILANTHROPIST at London’s Trafalgar Studios, which opens this week after a fortnight of previews.  It’s a ‘fiendishly clever inversion’ of Moliere’s THE MISANTHROPE, which the writer describes it as a ‘biting bourgeois comedy’, centring on an academic whose morbid compulsion to please everyone has the opposite effect.

After a ‘try-out’ at the Royal Court in London, the play premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in March 1971. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play. “Christopher Hampton was 23 and it was his first big hit – a stonking success,” said Simon Callow, who has gathered together a young cast, light on theatre experience, but well known to TV audiences.

THE INBETWEENERS star Simon Bird makes his stage debut, joined by Tom Rosenthal, his co-star in Channel 4’s FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER, FRESH MEAT and CALL THE MIDWIFE’s Charlotte Ritchie, BAFTA winner Matt Berry from the IT CROWD and actress-model Lily Cole, who all signed my montage sketch heading in for Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Simon Callow in A Christmas Carol

simon-callow-carol

Simon Callow’s passion for the work of Charles Dickens continued over the festive season just passed, when he bought his solo show A CHRISTMAS CAROL back to the West End.

After sell-out runs in 2011/12, acclaimed by both critics and audiences alike, the brilliant veteran actor and ‘Dickensionado’ once again teamed up with director-designer Tom Cairns to perform Dickens’ own performance adaption of the much loved Christmas novella in a limited run at the intimate Arts Theatre. Described as a ‘one-man theatrical extravaganza of heart warming and deeply moving festive story-telling,’ Simon plays the Victorian author himself, Scrooge and a host of other parts in the 90 minute performance.

“Embody the narrator Scrooge and other characters, Callow whisks the audience away on a journey that makes you feel like you have never heard A CHRISTMAS CAROL before,” wrote George Simpson in the Express.

I meet the charming and charismatic Simon after his matinee performance a couple of Saturdays ago in the small cafe/bar/front of house/box office at the Arts Theatre and he signed this drawing for me.

Drawing: Simon Callow in Being Shakespeare

Simon Callow

One of Britain’s finest actors, Simon Callow brought his acclaimed one-man show Being Shakespeare back to London for a strictly limited season at the Harold Pinter theatre. Written by Jonathan Bate and directed by Tom Cairns, the show ran for 23 performances, finishing last night (15 March 2014).

The production returned following two successful runs in the West End. The Guardian’s Michael Billington described it as “a memorably multidimensional picture of Shakespeare steeped in scholarship and love”. Simon brings to life the Bard’s unforgettable characters and the real man behind the legend.

2014 marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of the world’s greatest playwright.

Drawings: Ian McKellen and Simon Callow in Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Ian McKellen Estragon

Following on from yesterday’s Pickup Lines, I also produced sketches of the other main characters from Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot in a similar ‘elemental’ style – like the play itself.

Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon and Simon Callow as Pozzo also signed their respective renderings at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in August 2009.

Simon Callow - Pozzo Simon Callow note

Drawing: Simon Callow in Being Shakespeare

Simon Callow001

Actor, musician, writer and theatre director Simon Callow excels in every facet.

Apparently he became an actor after sending a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier, the then artistic director of the National Theatre. A response suggested he join the box office staff and realised acting was for him after watching actors rehearse.

He signed my sketch at the Trafalgar Studios in London in July 2011 before a performance of his one man play Being Shakespeare. It was revived at the same theatre in March 2012, prior to a run in New York and Chicago.